PETALING JAYA: Former attorney general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas claims to have had the support of DAP bigwigs Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh before the 13th General Election to be appointed as AG had the Opposition won then.
In his newly released memoir My Story: Justice in the Wilderness, Thomas recounted how he had met the late former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas to secure PAS’ and the then PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s support for him to hold the position if the then coalition of PAS, DAP and PKR won.
Although that coalition was called Pakatan Rakyat, Thomas stated in his book that he was named as the “leading candidate for the post of Attorney General in the event of a Pakatan Harapan victory in GE13”.
The 13th General Election was held in 2013.
Thomas did not identify those who named him as the “leading candidate” and simply mentioned them as “long-standing friends in the Bar”.
He also recalled how he had then visited the late Karpal at his office in Pudu prior to the election in 2013 to check if the latter was vying for the position of AG.
“I then asked whether he would serve as Attorney General, to which he replied no. I then told him my wishes. Karpal said he would completely support my appointment and that he would mention it straightaway to his good friend and leader of the DAP, Lim Kit Siang. It was agreed that the matter would remain confidential.”
Later, Thomas said the opposition “did not win sufficient seats to form the federal government in 2013. Hence, my candidacy remained a secret, known to just a few individuals”.
Thomas further wrote that the selection of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad “as leader of the Pakatan Harapan to contest GE14 had a profound effect on my chances of becoming Attorney General”.
He then told of a “topsy-turvy relationship” with Dr Mahathir and how his relationship with Dr Mahathir’s former lawyer Matthias Chang helped to open doors for him to get close to the seventh PM in 2015 on matters of 1MDB and law reforms.
He said as GE14 approached in 2018, the matter of the AG’s appointment should the opposition win was brought up again.
“I informed Zainur (Zakaria) and Ambiga (Sreenevasan) of my chats with Tun Salleh and Karpal Singh in 2013 and their enthusiastic support for my appointment then. That resolved the issue.
“A few days later, Zainur, Ambiga and I visited Tun in his office. Zainur brought up the subject of the important role the new Attorney General would play in a Pakatan Harapan government. Tun agreed and specifically mentioned the 1MDB issues.
“Then, Zainur recommended my appointment, praising my achievements and stating that I would be the ideal candidate. Ambiga and I stayed silent, so did Tun.”
He later talked about how Pakatan won the 14th General Election and Dr Mahathir appointed him as the AG, despite “meeting resistance from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong”, who was Sultan Muhammad V at that time.
“Tun said that he was adamant to see my appointment through, and I was to leave the matter to him.”
He further wrote that as his was the only name submitted by Dr Mahathir to the Conference of Malay Rulers, they had no choice but to agree.
“On Monday, June 3,2018, the King signed my letter of appointment. The newly released Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim visited the King in his Palace in Kota Baru that day.
“But the reports were conflicting about Anwar’s role. Some say he objected to my appointment, while others say he supported it. Whatever might have transpired between the King and Anwar, the Palace issued a statement on Monday night announcing my appointment.”
Thomas also wrote on how a day after his appointment, he was informed by Dr Mahathir to tender his resignation.
However, he did not elaborate the details of that conversation here, merely adding that “when that hurdle was overcome. I was advised to report for duty on June 6,2018, at the Attorney General’s Chambers”.
The 531-page memoir My Story: Justice in the Wilderness was released on Jan 30 and published by Strategic Information and Research Development Centre.