By Dominic Tham
FORMER Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas’s recently-released memoir, My Story: Justice in the Wilderness has set off a fury of brickbats and bouquets. The 573-page volume has touched some raw nerves, with its jaw-dropping revelations on the goings-on within the corridors of power.
As it is, the country’s former top lawyer is facing a possible lawsuit from the country’s former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak over the former’s allegations about the latter’s involvement in the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaaribu.
Najib is not the only ex-PM attacking Thomas. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the former PM who appointed Thomas as the country’s first non-Malay AG also did not mince his words and questioned the latter’s claims on the events leading up to Pakatan Harapan’s ouster in Feb 2020.
The police have also said they would question Thomas “urgently” over a report lodged by a former Solicitor-General III involving contents in the book. Several high-ranking lawyers have also attacked Thomas over allegations the latter made in his explosive volume.
As the country’s former top legal eagle, Thomas should have been aware of the possible consequences even before the first copy of the book rolled off the printing press.
Whether one agrees with Thomas or feels the claims in the book were biased, if not fabricated, the memoir makes an interesting read. It gives ordinary Malaysians a sneak peek into the wheeling and dealings that goes on in high office.
All too often the country’s political elites take for granted the powers vested upon them and make decisions that appear to be based on political considerations, without having to justify them to the public.
Books like Thomas’ have further lifted the veil of secrecy surrounding how the political elites push through decisions, whether involving government procurements, leadership struggles or policies that affect Malaysians at large.
Not all former high-ranking officers are privy to such knowledge or have the flair to tell all. In fact, most bureaucrats ride into the sunset, carrying such knowledge with them to their graves.
But the practice of penning a memoir among retired heads of government or top bureaucrats is common in the West. Often, such works become bestsellers for the insight the writers divulge into the inner-workings at the apex of their respective political structures.
Whether coincidental or otherwise, in the West scandals involving corruption or abuse of power are far less frequent compared with Malaysia. Perhaps the threat of being exposed by those with inside knowledge, has kept those who control the levers of power, in check.
However, Malaysians who read the book and those of the same genre need to bear in mind that the content is inherently biased. They need to keep an open mind and read the responses from the aggrieved and form their own conclusions.
We need more Malaysians to come up with books like Thomas’. Spilling the beans promotes transparency. If nothing else, such memoirs are a better read than the more common autobiographies that are full of self-praise and fit only as decorations on coffee tables. – Feb 06, 2021
Dominic Tham is an avid FocusM reader.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.