Tommy Thomas as AG is Not Independent


The office of Attorney General (AG) is the equivalent of a ministry in government. The AG himself holds the rank equivalent to that of a Federal Court Judge. The AG as officer of the court and of parliament has at all times to guard his independence as well he must be seen to be independent and not a tool of government. Tommy Thomas as AG may find it difficult to demonstrate his independence in the office of AG and should therefore not be engaging in the highly unconventional ‘blood sport’ of prosecuting a political enemy on behalf of the office of AG and DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) in person. In fact he is conflicted in any role against Datuk Seri Najib Razak (Najib) former prime minister of Malaysia.

Apart from the delayed outrage felt by the Malaysian Bar’s president George Varghese over the unconstitutional appointment of special committees by Mahathir,  to investigate Najib’s alleged commission of crimes during his tenure in office as Prime Minister, there has been little else in either legal capacity, knowledge or depth demonstrated by the Malaysian Bar and Malaysia’s legal fraternity over the presence of Tommy Thomas in the criminal proceeding against Najib .


There is the question and conflict of ethics, independence and the duty to discharge the duties of prosecutor and officer of the court honorably, honestly, ethically and with fairness by the AG.

The English for 500 years saw themselves as being naturally imbued with these virtues that only the British parliament could in their view have an unconflicted AG, a Lord Chancellor and judges sit in the legislature and in courts whilst at the same time claiming to be impartial and independent. 

Time has exposed that fiction to be nothing more than a fiction which unfortunately lasted for centuries without anyone noticing the farce that it was. However and thankfully that convention and the myth was finally brought to an end by the Blair government in or around 2005.

In Malaysia as it is the case in the UK, Australia, the US and Canada the AG is legal advisor to government, the parliament and the King first and foremost. He also oversees the functioning of the office of the DPP.

The AG does not appear in court in person to prosecute in criminal matters. Instead the AG informs parliament and the government of the day of the state of proceedings if requested and instructs a competent practitioner to carry out the task of prosecuting iin its name (Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah on behalf of the AG versus Anwar Ibrahim).

It is not the AG’s job to appear in court to prosecute a matter any more than it is the job of the minister of defence to lead a charge of the armed forces into battle in times of war. That task is delegated to those officers appointed and appropriately trained and vested with such duties under the constitution.


Given his penchant for grand standing and his demonstrated lack of experience or knowledge sufficient to carry out a task as the prosecution of Najib competently within the framework of the law, it was inevitable that Thomas would rush to grab that poisoned chalice of prosecuting Najib. Thomas’ motives are personal glory and to satisfy his ego driven by his vanity.

Tommy Thomas’ legal career is riddled with acts of vanity and self-indulgence. There is no legal milestone, a seminal case or precedent in law worthy of mention. that is attributable to the man.

As a legal practitioner Tommy Thomas would not want an independent analysis of his work in litigation exposed. His legal work history is embarrassingly devoid of any achievement to speak of and a very elementary record of professional performance.

Tommy Thomas joins Ambiga Srinivasan that other ‘civil libertarian’ lawyer who is ready to suspend the civil liberties of the likes of Najib in circumstances he Najib is faced with. Their position today is clearly and starkly at variance with the positions they adopted when supporting a propaganda campaign against Najib when he was their prime minister. They chanted ‘civil liberty’ as a slogan which underwrote the ‘principles‘ of a raft of opposition parties joined at the hip by the Malaysian Bar and a group called Bersih of which Ambiga was a crucial part.

Suddenly civil liberties do not matter to them. Civil rights and liberties it seems can be sacrificed and eroded for advancement of a political objective regardless of the consequences to the rights of those it affects most, the general public.

The AG has long been viewed with suspicion as a “tool of the crown-or government” in the UK and elsewhere. And in Thomas’ case quite rightly so. Thomas assists greatly in reinforcing that suspicion by his conduct and his public statements directed at Najib. Thomas has over time accused Najib of being unconstitutional, unethical and a criminal. In unison with other opposition voices he spent a considerable amount of effort furthering the unfounded accusation that Najib is a murderer or that he was complicit in the murder of Altantuya.

Thomas has failed to withdraw his statements and allegations made against Najib in the past.


However the constitution describes the position of AG the character of the  AG must be one of unimpeachable independence and knowledge of the constitution and law. The standards of independence and knowledge must be of comparable to that of the highest standards applicable in comparable jurisdictions. The fact he is both political animal and chief legal officer of the crown as Tommy Thomas demonstrates in this matter damages the integrity of the office irreparably. Thomas is  clearly not independent.

The relevant subsections of article 145 of the Malaysian (Federal) Constitution provides thus:

In the performance of his duties the Attorney General shall have the right of audience in, and shall take precedence over any other person appearing before, any court or tribunal in the Federation.” (Nothing in this provision (subsection) creates any right in the AG to personally prosecute a criminal matter in which he has an interest or to act partially).

What the above ‘privilege’ accords the Attorney General of Malaysia is hard to determine by the above statement alone.

The above is an empty statement which specifies nothing in the context of Tommy Thomas’ assumed duties before the High Court of Malaysia in Kula Lumpur in the trial of Najib. What are Tommy Thomas’s duties as Attorney General under the Malaysian Constitution? the remainder of article 145 of the Malaysian Constitution appearing below is instructive on this issue of “duties” of the AG.

Attorney General 145.

(1) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court to be the Attorney General for the Federation. (How does Thomas qualify to be a Federal Court Judge other than by a purely political appointment alone?)

(2) It shall be the duty of the Attorney General to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Cabinet or any Minister upon such legal matters, and to perform such other duties of a legal character, as may from time to time be referred or assigned to him by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Cabinet, and to discharge the functions conferred on him by or under this Constitution or any other written law. (This statement is hollow. What does “such matters” mean in this or any other context? what are the functions conferred upon him apart from advising the king, parliament and government?)

(3) The Attorney General shall have power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a Syariah court, a native court or a court-martial. ( This is reference to and points to an administrative function-“for an offence“-what offence?- it says nothing about the man in the position having the right to prosecuting a defendant in a criminal matter, any more than say a defence minister is obliged or empowered to lead the armed forces  into battle)

A cursory reading of the above will inform an educated reader of extent of the problems associated with the role of AG in Malaysia; and why reliance has to be had on the conventions of the constitution which are not found in the articles of this poorly written document.

The ambiguity and very limited role of the AG of Malaysia is evident in the above extract from the constitution on the powers rights and obligations of the AG which begs the question “ what is Tommy Thomas doing in court personally prosecuting Najib?”.

His job is not that of prosecuting attorney but as the over seer of the prosecuting attorney who acts on his instructions (perhaps not personally- but instead on the advise of a lawyer or lawyers he or his office approves of and instructs to prosecute).


Tommy Thomas can’t differentiate between the office he holds and the individual he is that occupies that office. He can’t make that distinction which is why he conducts himself unconstitutionally in the way he does, eroding the rule of law in the process. It is pure vanity without substance that is at work here.

Thomas as AG needs to maintain the perception at least that this is not a political trial, in that, the AG as part of the government not is prosecuting Najib as part of its political policy. It is how Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah successfully defeated Anwar Ibrahim without tainting the government of the day by association or by implication of his conduct. Because of the separation he maintained between the office of AG and himself as an independent lawyer acting in that matter acting on instructions of the AG he succeeded. But sadly Thomas is no Shafee Abdullah. And the Malaysian Bar did not understand that role so they criticized TS Shafee Abdullah for his work.

Thomas has in the recent past made disparaging remarks about Najib and his government in an attempt at lending credence to the unfounded allegations against Najib without legal authority or sufficient grounds which makes Thomas unsuitable as prosecutor or participant in the trial of Najib regardless of the powers bestowed upon him under the constitution as AG to prosecute Najib.

The job should go to a special prosecutor and an independent one. Thomas has demonstrated actual, perceived and apprehended bias sufficient to disqualify him from acting as prosecuting lawyer. 

Thomas’ bias is apprehended, actual and perceived. He must go.

2 Responses to “Tommy Thomas as AG is Not Independent”
  1. Fat says:

    Ah the recalcitrant Gopal Raj at it again. Your brand of stupidity and hate doesn’t work anymore. Go run and hide up big mama’s skirt along with Jibby.


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