Zaid calls out Bar chief’s ‘hypocrisy’ over report on Thomas’ memoir

(FMT) – Zaid Ibrahim has criticised the Bar Council over its response to the declassification and publication of the special task force’s report on former attorney-general (AG) Tommy Thomas’ controversial book.

“Karen Cheah’s comments yesterday show up the Bar Council’s innate desire to champion the cause of the opposition even to the point of defending the indefensible.

“Her comments are laced with hypocrisy,” he said, referring to the president of the Bar Council.

Cheah was reported to have questioned the impartiality of the government and the task force, and called the release of the report “untimely” as Parliament had been dissolved.

She also said that a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) should have been convened instead.

In response, Zaid called for the Bar Council to “remove its pro-opposition blinkers” and accept the findings contained in the 800-page report for what they are.

“What is the need for a further RCI? Many Commonwealth countries are known to conduct governmental inquiries without resorting to RCIs,” the former law minister told FMT, adding that Cheah was “looking for excuses”.

He pointed out that the special task force carried out a thorough analysis of the book and identified numerous potential offences and breaches which may have been committed by Thomas and former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“It has recommended investigation by the relevant investigative authorities and action, if warranted,” he said.

According to Zaid, all that is left is for the incoming government to refer the matter to the police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), and any other relevant authority for those investigations to commence.

“The Bar president is pretending she has not read Thomas’ book. Thomas has clearly documented Dr Mahathir’s and his own blatant interference with the mechanism prescribed by law for the appointment of judges.

“Or maybe the Bar Council is okay with that because it was done by the PH government,” he said.

The former law minister also said Cheah’s complaint about the timing of the report’s release was just “opportunistic” given that the various processes that the Cabinet and the task force went through date back more than a year.

Thomas’ book, “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness”, was published in January last year.

Its controversial contents drew criticism from multiple quarters including current AG Idrus Harun, lawyers, politicians and the general public, leading to the filing of numerous police reports.

On Oct 8 last year, the Cabinet established the special task force to undertake a preliminary study of disclosures made by Thomas in the book.

On Dec 22, the Cabinet approved the task force’s terms of reference which involved investigating allegations about the judiciary, exposure of government secrets, abuse of power, professional negligence, and seditious statements.

The task force sat between Dec 23 last year and Aug 25. The Bar Council was invited to participate, but declined.

In September, the task force’s report was tabled before the Cabinet.

Shortly after that, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) issued a statement that Thomas would be investigated for sedition and various other offences as recommended in the report.

Parliament was dissolved on Oct 10, with general elections to take place on Nov 19.

The report was made public last Friday.