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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Muhyiddin livid LTTE 12 charges dropped, Dr M satisfied with explanation - Thomas


Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin was determined to get 12 individuals charged for being alleged supporters of the defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorist group, claimed former attorney-general (AG) Tommy Thomas.

In his memoir published yesterday, Thomas said that Muhyiddin first tried to exert his influence as then-home minister after the High Court ruled a provision under the Security Offences (Special Measures Act) 2012 (Sosma), which denied bail to detainees, was unconstitutional.

This allowed DAP's Gadek assemblyperson G Saminathan - one of the 12 accused - to apply for bail.

Believing that judges should have discretion on whether or not to grant bail, Thomas said he decided the Attorney-General's Chambers would not appeal the High Court's decision.

However, the former AG said Muhyiddin believed otherwise.

"Much pressure was put on me by the home minister (Muhyiddin) that I should appeal.

"Indeed, he wrote to the prime minister (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) asking for the latter to decide on the matter.

"The cabinet decided that this was a legal matter, and should be left to me like other legal issues. But the Home Ministry was upset with me," Thomas said.

Thomas decided later on Feb 21, 2020, to exercise his constitutional powers to discontinue the prosecution against the LTTE 12, after being convinced that the prosecution had a weak case that could not secure convictions.

This again put him at odds with Muhyiddin.

"I was severely attacked by the right-wing forces (after my decision). The home minister was livid.

"I briefed the prime minister the day prior to the media release.

"Mahathir was satisfied with my explanation that since there was no realistic prospect of a conviction for any of the 12 accused, dropping the prosecution made sense. He was content to leave the legal decision to me," Thomas added.

Among the charges levied against the 12 were for possessing photos of slain LTTE leaders such as V Prabhakaran.

Thomas equated this to admiring communist figures such as Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Che Guevara.

Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Iskandar said earlier this month on Instagram that Guevara was one of his idols.

"Having their (communist) photos and other representations in one's mobile phone or on a Facebook account does not transform one into a terrorist.

"Just because each of these leaders used terror or violence to achieve their political goals does not mean that an ardent supporter online should be regarded as a terrorist or is planning a terrorist act," the former AG said.

Thomas's decision to drop the charges against the LTTE 12 came days before Muhyiddin launched a coup that resulted in Pakatan Harapan being ousted from power.

When Mahathir was trying to form a unity government, Thomas claimed Umno and PAS demanded that he be removed as the AG for dropping the LTTE charges. Mahathir assented to this.

"According to them (Umno and PAS), this (dropping LTTE charges) was a racist decision on my part," the former AG said.

Thomas later resigned two days before Muhyiddin was sworn-in as prime minister.

He said their disagreement over the LTTE case made it impossible for them to work together. - Mkini

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