PUTRAJAYA: The separation of powers between the Attorney General (AG) and the Public Prosecutor’s office is among the objectives that Tommy Thomas will work on.
The newly appointed AG said he always favoured the separation of powers between the two offices.
He said the Bar Council, of which he has just ceased to be a member of, took a similar position for decades.
Thomas said the Bar has always pushed for a separation of the public prosecutor’s office and the functions of the AG.
“And that is my personal position which is consistent with that of the Bar. So I am very happy that the reforming government, whom I now serve, has adopted that, and we will work towards that.
“I think there is a process but it will take some time. I will be guided by the (AG’s) Chambers, that is certainly the objective,” he said yesterday.
Asked about the “backlash” he received prior to being appointed as the AG, Thomas said people were entitled to free speech.
“If you value free speech, then you must practise free speech, and free speech means everybody can criticise you.
“So I am happy for everybody to criticise me, it’s part of free speech,” he said, adding that there was nothing wrong with criticism.
Thomas said he would rather listen to criticism than receive praises.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said Thomas, has also given him a “free hand” on the AG’s Chambers, adding there will be no interference from the executive.
Asked about his command of Bahasa Malaysia, Thomas admitted that he has to “brush up”.
“The trouble is with private practice, which I had for 42 years, dealings with clients, basically commercial clients and documents ... I have neglected my Bahasa.
“I promise to brush it up,” he said with a smile.
Thomas said he was “thrilled and honoured” when he was informed that he was the next AG.
Taking up the post, said Thomas, was like a “national service” on his part.
“Someone has to direct the reforms of laws as part of the reforming government. Our mantra is reforming the AG’s (Chambers) to assist the Prime Minister elected by the people,” he said.
He said the AGC was keen to listen to suggestions, and expected cooperation from all, particularly the Bar Council, NGOs and the public on the reforms.
“In Malaysia, after 60 years of one party rule, with the result that the law is in a parlous state, the AG’s responsibilities are doubly onerous.
“Hence, there is so much reform to be carried out, and we need the assistance of all stakeholders to improve and strengthen the legal structure and system,” he added.
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