A Gospel According to Tommy Thomas (Not the Saint)
MALAYSIA A POLICE STATE?
He asks, then answers the questions himself, the answers adorning his ‘erudite’ piece of scholarship with the garland of slippers it deserves. Thomas’s book “abuse of power” is an insult to the intelligence of any average student of constitutional law. It is an utter abuse of his rights to freedom of expression.
Thomas’s literary work is a celebration of mediocrity. So too are the many pro opposition lectures he has given over time on various aspects of the constitution from his own personal ill informed perspective. They are shallow, lack any dimension or understanding of the fundamental flaws in the constitution itself, a document so poorly drafted and conceived, that anyone in their right mind would agree it was likely the last laugh the British had at the expense of the Malayans they pated from at independence.
Thomas is no authority on the constitution. Any constitution. If he were he would have begun his book by analysing the drafting flaws in the constitution and the consequential problems that have arisen out of that poor drafting as a critical starting point.
At his highest levels of intellectual consciousness he is unaware of the draftsman’s flaws in the constitution. At other levels he is to put it simply, intellectually dishonest. That’s a pointer as to where the rest of his book takes the reader to. He fails to address the difficulties judges and courts are confronted with when dealing with constitutional matters that come before them. For instance there is the absence of any codified principles of interpretation judges could otherwise rely on when attempting to interpret the constitution. Such matters are not within the scope of Thomas’s legal skills.
Tommy Thomas asks rhetorically “if this (Malaysia) is Myanmar or Zimbabwe”. Two states the west and other powers desperately wish to get their claws stuck into because of the strategic location of the two nations, a fact acknowledged by those who seek to possess and control it. But let us look at where Thomas’s book and his “expertise” as a constitutional lawyer seek to take us.
THOMAS’S TAKE ON THE CONSTITUTION
Like these other states in the grip of civil society’s manufactured unrest and civil wars, Malaysia too is a strategic piece of real estate coveted by the powers that control global politics and trade (the Straits of Malacca).
The forces who seek to control it or influence Malaysia’s government consist of the street thugs and vandals of civil societies whose actions are unconstitutional on the one hand; (And Thomas is one of them). The others are those who subscribe to the ballot box and the law. These are the established and conventional political forces of which the government is one, whilst the parliamentary opposition pretends to be of their ranks.
There is a new world order being being molded by the five powers out there. Malaysia is an integral part of that geopolitical objective and strategy seeking to forcibly redraw political and geographic borders. Thomas surely is not seriously believe that the rest of us are blind to these upheavals and unrest instigated by his mates in civil societies of which he is an integral and willing partner.
Back to the book, Thomas fails to analyse the Malaysian constitution or to even attempt to address the major technical flaws embedded in it at a superficial level. That’s because it is not the object of his book or a part of his skills set as he and his mates claim on his behalf.
A critical feature of the Malaysian constitution is the absence of any document or doctrinal guide as to how the constitution should be read (as a many other constitutions are brought into existence with). The consequential problems that follow from this oversight are perhaps the first point any serious constitutional lawyer would address. Thomas’ book is silent on this point.
Thomas further fails to identify those features (or lack of these) of the constitution that point to the mischief by the outgoing colonial administration in drafting the constitution the way it is. He does not address these defects (the mischief) or how they may be corrected through constitutional means.
Tommy’s silence on this point and any attempt to deal with it is largely because, Thomas’s understanding of constitutional law and the Malaysian constitution is in truth shallow and superficial.
Basic concepts like the separation of powers doctrine, the rule of law, and the conflicts in interpretation of those doctrines are not something Thomas cares to deal wit in his book. He is unable to.
Thomas also avoids any analysis of the doctrine of sovereignty, the powers of parliament over every other institution in the land which is disappointing. A good student of the constitution, let alone an “expert” like Thomas would know that many of the constitutions conventions and articles within the codified document are often in conflict with each other. It is where that dynamic life and functioning of the constitution lies. It requires discussion and analysis rather than one liners which go nowhere.
The only constitutional matter than Thomas appears to engage in is the so called Perak Crisis where the sovereign intervened in the removal of a minority government when certain members crossed the floor for whatever reason to form government with the earlier opposition.
Thomas’s interpretation and understanding of the constitution in that incident is embarrassing and demonstrative of his credentials as a ‘lightweight’ on the subject and perhaps a graduate of the school of constitutional thought of retired judge NH Chan.
THOMAS HISTORY OF CONSTITUTIONAL WRITING AND ANALYSIS
Thomas’s lack of depth and dimension in his knowledge (or expertise as he would prefer) in the constitution is evident from his many writings and public comments on the subject. They fail to impress and is at the very least embarrassing.
Where he is held in high esteem as a constitutional expert, Thomas preaches to the converted in Malaysia. Malaysia is notorious for its hero worship of those lawyers who are one trick ponies like Thomas who love themselves and the media in equal measure, then are elevated to self appointed experts on many subjects they have no basic knowledge of.
All in all his work in this book is disappointing, un enlightening and is nothing more than a feeble, trashy attempt at attacking a government he dislikes because he and his colleagues have failed to unseat the government through constitutional means. So much for his knowledge of the constitution and constitutional government in practical terms.
It is food for the converted and a contribution that is evidence of the calibre of the “experts” and ” best” the Malaysian Bar can afford.
FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS -CONSTITUTIONAL AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY
Thomas’ borrowed clichés such as the tired old police state remark is not worthy of any analysis or response. He fails to make out a case for that comment apart from a set of bald allegations. He further regurgitates that suicidal hypocritical and unsustainable comment that elections held in Malaysia were not free and fair.
Like the Malaysian Bar and his colleague Ambiga Srinivasan, Thomas fails to call on those opposition members of parliament elected at those same elections he says were “not free and fair” to give up their seats. After all people like Thomas’s support base, the Ambiga’s of this world and the opposition are “right thinking freedom loving and fair people” are they not? Is this not what Thomas is implying? And why should his friends in the opposition continue to hold on to their seats won in elections that were “not free and fair?”
Is this not an immoral and untenable position for the morally righteous in Thomas’s camp to adopt? does that fact of itself not go to their credibility as lawyers and politicians?
It is the same repetitive and tired old rhetoric that comes to bite the thick hides of Tommy Thomas (constitutional expert) and his fellow travelers in the Malaysian Bar (on the opposition side) that alleges the courts and judges of Malaysia are corrupt, incompetent and politically biased.
Once more these complaints and allegations when compared to their actions raise serious questions about their credibility as lawyers and politicians.
Ironically none of these self righteous critics of the courts are ready to give up the opportunity or resist the temptation to a good paid fight in those same ‘corrupt’ ‘incompetent’ courts for that hefty retainer (much of it undeserved) they collect as prize money doing what they otherwise suggest is unethical and unlawful.
Where is the morality in all of this? where is the consistency in Thomas’s arguments on these matters?
A further weaknesses in Thomas’s argument is that the government’s reaction to the Bersih rallies are perhaps an over reaction?
“Is the Government seriously contending that as a sovereign nation which has enjoyed over 5 decades of independence, Malaysia cannot tolerate or survive the exercise by thousands of its citizens of their entrenched fundamental liberties of free speech, assembly and association on a Saturday morning!”
A paragraph or two earlier (in the Malaysian Insider article on the man and his observations 3 March 2016) he denounces the government as being corrupt, undemocratic, alleging they have not held free and fair elections ever in Malaysia.
From the other side of his mouth he talks of the “entrenched fundamental liberties of free speech etc”. Now where do such liberties come from in a corrupted system where there are no ‘free or fair elections?’ In his previous rants he claims these rights and liberties are denied the people of Malaysia.
If it were not for the vigilance of government, a sovereign government of a sovereign nation, he acknowledges has ‘enjoyed 5 decades of independence’, the ‘thousands’ who seek to compromise that sovereignty like Ambiga admits to, would destroy the same sovereign independent nation if not checked. Syria, Ukraine, Libya and other unwilling hosts to civil societies stand testament to the fact.
It is a paradox that Thomas launches his many criticisms (much of it unfounded) on Malaysian soil as a free man.
FALSE PROPHETS, PLASTIC SAVIOURS A DIME A DOZEN IN MALAYSIA
Bersih is anything but a benign and peaceful movement as Thomas would like us to believe. They are provocative, destructive, divisive, pugnacious agents of foreign governments (admitted on record by Ambiga) bent on doing what they have done in places like Turkey, Syria, Libya. Ukraine, Thailand.
In each of these places the evidence is that the local equivalents of Bersih have all done the same thing, destroy the countries they operate in, starting out in much the same way in the name of ‘peaceful rallies” as Thomas refers to it as.
The state of affairs and the evidence in each of these examples abroad suggests something completely different, sinister and dishonest about Thomas’s selective perceptions of Bersih he wants us to accept.
Thomas may well march on Easter Sunday in that age old Christian ritual with Tun Dr. Mahathir. It was Dr. Mahathir who Dr.Chandra Muzzaffar was wrongly accused once in 2009 as having turned Malaysia into a police state. They may yet discover they have a lot to discuss and a lot more in common including their chameleon like politics.
The paramount question Thomas fails to analyse, come to grips with and to address in his book is “what’s wrong with the ballot box?”.
Is it the fact that Thomas’s allies in the opposition have failed to impress the majority, but for a handful of Chinese chauvinists and Tamil stragglers, the reason the ballot box is no longer the valid tool of a ‘democratic’ constitution abiding opposition?
THE LORD MAY WELL HAVE TO SHEPHERD THOMAS- NO ONE ELSE WILL
Thomas is probably a good Christian, albeit one in need of a Good Shepherd to lead him to greener pastures and restful water to revive his drooping knowledge of the constitution.
Tommy certainly does not have the credentials that Salleh Abbas and his mate Datuk Mohd Arif Yusoff bestow upon him. By what measure of any reasonable yardstick does Tommy Thomas claim the title to being a Constitutional Lawyer or Malaysia’s top constitutional lawyer or for that matter Salleh Abbas a disgraced judge and Yusoff a former judge claim their position to bestow those credentials on Thomas in this regard?