PETALING JAYA: I appointed Tan Sri Tommy Thomas as attorney general as he was known to be “impartial” but that was before he wrote his memoir, says former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Speaking up for the first time since the declassification of the Special Task Task Force Report on Thomas’s allegations in his memoir "My Story: Justice In The Wilderness”, Dr Mahathir said that Thomas’ appointment was based on the fact that he was a lawyer who followed the “rule of law”.
“After he wrote the book, he started to voice out his opinions. But his appointment was done before he wrote the book.
“We knew at the time that he was a lawyer who sticks to the rule of law. So, he was appointed as he was known for this.
“He was not biased in favour of the government. In fact, he was very critical of me when I was the prime minister. He was impartial, that is why he was appointed,” Dr Mahathir said.
The former two-time prime minister said this in an exclusive interview with The Star at Yayasan Perdana on Tuesday (Oct 25).
“If I had to do it all over again, I would appoint a person who is not biased.
“The previous AG Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail investigated former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak over the 1MDB scandal.
“When Najib got to know about it, he dismissed Abdul Gani and immediately appointed Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali.
“The moment Apandi was appointed, he declared Najib was not wrong but later on, when a new AG (Thomas) was appointed, the AG found that there were a lot of wrong deeds committed by Najib.
“Thomas, upon looking at the evidence, decided that this must be sent to the courts. When it was sent to the courts, nine judges and three courts over four years decided that Najib had committed a lot of crimes, which showed that Apandi was not doing his work properly,” said Dr Mahathir.
Apandi replaced Abdul Gani as the AG from 2015 to 2018 before Thomas replaced him in 2018.
He also refuted the allegation in Thomas’ memoir which stated that a Malay government would be incompetent to run the country.
“This country has been independent for more than 65 years.
“For more than 60 years, the government of this country was dominated by the Malays. It became an 'Asian Tiger' and became the best performing of all the former British colonies.
“So, you cannot blame the Malays for bad governance because they grew this country whereas the British did not.
“During the British period, Malaysia was very poor, only after Independence, it developed,” said Dr Mahathir.
Published last year, Thomas' book was criticised by various quarters including the Attorney General's Chambers and several politicians for allegedly containing elements of incitement, insults and defamation.
Thomas was appointed as the attorney general under the former Pakatan government in 2018, but resigned after the administration collapsed in February 2020.
The special task force report on the book has been declassified and the 241-page report was made public on the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister's Department website on Friday (Oct 21).