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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Thomas says he had support of Kit Siang, Karpal to be AG if Pakatan won GE13


PETALING JAYA: Former attorney general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas has claimed he had the support of DAP bigwigs Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh to be appointed to the post had Pakatan Rakyat, as the coalition was called then, won the 13th General Election.

In his newly-released memoir "My Story: Justice in the Wilderness", Thomas recounted how he had met the late former lord president Tun Salleh Abas to secure PAS' and then-PKR president Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Ismail's support.

Thomas claimed he was named as the "leading candidate for the post of attorney general in the event of a Pakatan victory in GE13", which was held in 2013.

Thomas did not identify those who named him as the "leading candidate" but mentioned "long-standing friends in the Bar".

He also recalled how he had visited the late Karpal at his office in Pudu prior in 2013 to check if the latter was vying for the same post.

"I then asked whether he would serve as attorney general, to which he replied 'no'. I then told him my wishes.

"Karpal said he would completely support my appointment, and that he would mention it straightaway to his good friend and leader of the DAP, Lim Kit Siang.

"It was agreed that the matter would remain confidential."

Later, Thomas said the Opposition "did not win sufficient seats to form the federal government in 2013. Hence, my candidacy remained a secret, known to just a few individuals".

Thomas further wrote that the selection of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad "as leader of the Pakatan Harapan coalition to contest GE14 had a profound effect on my chances of becoming attorney general".

He then spoke of his "topsy-turvy relationship" with Dr Mahathir and how his relationship with his former lawyer Matthias Chang helped to open doors for him to get close to the seventh PM in 2015 on matters of 1MDB and law reforms.

He added that as GE14 approached in 2018, the matter of the appointment of the AG if Pakatan Harapan won was brought up again.

"I informed Zainur (Zakaria) and Ambiga (Sreenivasen) of my chats with Tun Salleh and Karpal Singh in 2013 and their enthusiastic support for my appointment then. That resolved the issue.

"A few days later, Zainur, Ambiga and I visited Tun (Dr Mahathir) in his office. Zainur brought up the subject of the important role the new attorney general would play in a Pakatan Harapan government. Tun agreed and specifically mentioned the 1MDB issues.

"Then Zainur recommended my appointment, praising my achievements and stating that I would be the ideal candidate. Ambiga and I stayed silent, so did Tun."

He later mentioned how the Pakatan won the 14th General Election and Dr Mahathir appointed him as the AG, despite "meeting resistance from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong".

At that time, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was Sultan Muhammad V.

"Tun said that he was adamant to see my appointment through, and I was to leave the matter with him."

He further wrote that as his was the only name submitted by Dr Mahathir to the Conference of Malay Rulers, they had no choice but to agree.

"On Monday, June 3, 2018, the King signed my letter of appointment. The newly-released (from prison) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim visited the King in his palace in Kota Baru that day. But the reports were conflicting about Anwar's role.

"Some say he objected to my appointment, while others said he supported it. Whatever might have transpired between the King and Anwar, the Palace issued a statement on Monday night announcing my appointment".

Thomas spent one chapter on his appointment on how he was asked by Dr Mahathir to tender his resignation one day after his appointment.

However, he did not elaborate on their conversation and merely wrote, "when that hurdle was overcome. I was advised to report for duty on June 6, 2018 at the Attorney General's Chambers".

The 531-page memoir "My Story: Justice in the Wilderness" was released on Jan 30 and published by the Strategic Information and Research Development Centre. - Star

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