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Tommy Thomas is ‘straighter than a ruler’

June 5, 2018

Ex-CJ Tun Zaki says Agong required by law to comply with govt’s AG recommendation

* Agong consents to appointment of Tommy Thomas as Attorney-General
* AG impasse threatens to divide public over race, religion, says Sarawak PKR
* Rais Yatim: Malay Rulers have no ‘designated’ role on AG appointment
* Tommy Thomas: I’m humbled by ‘the awesome responsibility’ as new AG  

Tun Zaki said he had known Thomas for a long time and had previously conducted court cases together with him. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 — Former Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi said the Yang di-Pertuan  Agong is required by law to comply with the government’s recommendation to appoint senior lawyer Tommy Thomas as the Attorney-General.

“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong cannot refuse or delay his consent. I’m sure the government has judged Thomas’ character before nominating him for the post,” he told Bernama today.

Tun Zaki said he had known Thomas for a long time and had previously conducted court cases together with him.

With reported reservations of the Palace over the government’s choice of AG, the Malay Rulers are expected to deliberate on the appointment of the new AG tomorrow.

Tun Zaki, who was a lawyer before being appointed Court of Appeal president and Chief Justice, was queried on his views over the proposed appointment of Thomas as AG.

Prominent criminal lawyer Datuk N. Sivananthan said that being someone from ‘‘outside the system’’,  Thomas was an excellent choice to fill the position as he would have a different perspective on the matters at hand.

“He has impeccable credentials and is ‘straighter than a ruler’. He has, by and large, been apolitical and has a deep respect for the rule of law. I think he’s someone who cannot be bullied or influenced to do anything unethical or illegal regardless of who is asking,” he said.

Sivananthan said Thomas’  knowledge of the law was second to none, and comments made that he was not conversant in criminal law was nonsense as he could issue a fiat to a private lawyer to prosecute such cases to ensure that the prosecution was done fairly and free from allegations of bias since private lawyers handling these cases would not have any allegiance to the AG.

“He’s, of course, a skilled litigator and I think he’s the perfect choice to be the legal advisor to the government and, to be honest, I don’t envy the onerous and monumental task ahead of him (if chosen as AG),” he said, adding that a person who took up the position must have a deep-rooted desire “to put things right”.

Constitutional lawyer Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar felt that Thomas was a suitable choice as he was a very experienced lawyer and understood the constitution and the rule of law well.

“There won’t be any other ideal candidate. This person must possess the essential core strengths for the position and be a person of impeccable integrity,” he said. — Bernama

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