Bar Council stands behind Tommy Thomas

(MMO) – The Malaysian Bar today questioned if caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s orders to declassify the report detailing Putrajaya’s investigation into former attorney-general Tommy Thomas’ memoir to use as political ammunition falls under a form of abuse of power.

Bar president Karen Cheah Yee Lynn added that such an investigation must be free from “political tampering,” and would have been in better hands under a Royal Commission of Inquiry instead of the government-linked special task force.

“It was reported that our caretaker prime minister, who is also the vice-president of Umno, has urged Barisan Nasional’s election machinery to capitalise on the declassified report, which could potentially be an abuse of power.

“The prime minister further openly admitted during a pre-campaign period rally that he declassified the report so that it can be used as political ‘bullets’ to attack the opposition party.

“Such blatant admission, if true, begs the question of good faith in the establishment of the special task force and whether the special task force report was non-partisan and reliable for justice to be properly administered, and whether justice can be achieved,” Cheah said in a statement here.

Cheah said that the declassification of the report was “untimely,” given the dissolution of Parliament on October 7 and the pending 15th general elections slated for November 19.

She added if there were reports that should be declassified as a matter of urgency, it should be the enforced disappearances of activist Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh that takes priority.

The report on the special task force’s probe of Thomas’ book titled My Story: Justice in the Wilderness which was published in January last year, was declassified last Friday.

The task force, led by Sarawak Legal Adviser Datuk Seri Fong Joo Chung, had spent nine months investigating possible offences including professional negligence, seditious statements, abuse of power, and possible exposure of government secrets.

After Thomas’ book was published, it received much criticism from lawyers and politicians for allegedly containing elements of incitement, insults and defamation.

More than 100 police reports were lodged against Thomas over his book.