Former AG's statement on Sulu claim is too little, too late


I MAKE reference to the statement, "Explaining the Sulu claim", by former attorney general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas dated July 27.

To begin with, I would like to state empathetically my appreciation to him for providing a lengthy and lawyerly explanation from his point of view.

However, this came across as too little and three-years too late. I must emphasise that, at the onset, Tan Sri Thomas wielded full control and responsibility as the attorney general of Malaysia 2018-2020 on how the government would approach the Sulu claim situation. It was required of him to always protect our national interest.

Myself, and many other fellow Malaysians, could not help but notice statements made by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, members of the Pakatan Harapan Cabinet and the former Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal that they were never made aware of the letter Tan Sri Thomas wrote to the Sulu heirs in 2019.

As the designated attorney general, he was the principal legal advisor to the Government of Malaysia. The government would be like his client, and it's his role and primary duty to give counsel and inform the client on all pertinent issues. On matters involving the nation, Tan Sri Thomas simply cannot make unilateral decisions without consulting the rest of the government.

Sheer naivety or negligence, we now face a potential loss of US$14.92bil.

The decision for Malaysia to stop the annual payments of RM5,300 to the Sulu heirs following the armed incursion of Lahad Datu in 2013 received wide, bipartisan support. Considering how Tan Sri Thomas had repeatedly and vehemently disputed any linkage between the heirs and invaders, I hereby implore him to provide empirical evidence to substantiate his position.

The formation of a special task force involving multiple ministries, international arbitration experts, and the attorney general chambers to formulate action plans to address and resolve complications arising from the claims of the Sulu heirs is an appropriate response prior to exploring further mechanisms, like a royal commission of inquiry (RCI).

DATUK CHONG SIN WOON

MCA secretary-general

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