Tommy Thomas’ memoir rouses public alarm – SFC

KUALA LUMPUR – The High Court today was told that the content of former Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas’ (picture) memoir titled “My Story: Justice In the Wilderness” had roused public alarm.

Senior Federal Counsel (SFC) Shamsul Bolhassan said the Cabinet, therefore felt the necessity to establish the special task force (STF) to investigate the matter.

He submitted that the establishment of the STF was in accordance with the exercise of the Cabinet’s executive powers under Article 39 of the Federal Constitution and the formation of the STF was approved by the Cabinet, with its primary responsibilities to gather information or conduct preliminary investigations into the contents of the book.

“Therefore, as the STF was subject to the order and terms of reference set by the Cabinet, its establishment was indeed in the course of exercising the executive authority of the Federation.

“It is crucial to note that the preliminary investigation was into the alleged content of the book,” he said adding that it was erroneous to say that the establishment of the STF was illegal simply because it did not exist under the law.

According to Shamsul, the decision to form the STF was made pursuant to the executive power conferred by Article 39 of the Federal Constitution and it was formed validly in accordance with the law.

“Therefore, the suit brought by the plaintiff is scandalous, frivolous or vexatious and abuse of the process of the court. Thus, we urge the court to strike out the entire of the said originating summons (OS),” he said during the hearing of the special task force and the government’s application to quash the suit by Thomas regarding an investigation report on the contents of his book.

Thomas filed the suit on Oct 27, 2022, naming the special task force’s chairman Datuk Seri Fong Joo Chung, seven other members of the team, as well as the government as defendants.

Besides Fong, the special task force comprises Datuk Seri Panglima Hashim Paijan, Datuk Dr Junaidah Kamaruddin, Datuk Jagjit Singh Bant Singh, Datuk Shaharudin Ali, K Balaguru, Farah Adura Hamidi and Mohd Najib Surip.

Meanwhile, Thomas’ counsel Mervyn Lai submitted the true purpose of the setting up of the “illegal” task force, and the release of its unlawful report, including its timing, was thus for collateral purposes to attack the credibility of the plaintiff.

He said on or about Oct 6, 2022, a version of the report marked “Confidential” was posted on the Internet and it was widely circulated thereafter.

The counsel further said the suit was not a plain and obvious case which is suitable for summary determination because it involves novel questions of law which have hitherto not been determined by courts.

“It also involves the abuse of government machinery, using outside mechanisms not prescribed by law to publicly vilify and cast aspersions on an ex-AG of Malaysia in respect of his conduct while in office,” he added.

Judge Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh fixed Aug 8 for a decision on the striking out application.

Thomas, who was the AG from June 2018 to February 2020, had sought a declaration that the report titled “Report of the Special Task Force – Investigation into the Allegations in the Book Titled “My Story: Justice In The Wilderness”, was an invalid document and against the law.

In the originating summons, Thomas claimed the publication of the report violated Sections 499 and 500 of the Penal Code and/or Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 beside sought a declaration that the publication of the report by the government, violated his right to his reputation as protected by Articles 5(1) and 13(1) of the Federal Constitution.

The book written by Thomas which was published in January 2021 courted a lot of controversies, which led to the Cabinet setting up a special task force on Oct 8, 2021, to conduct a study on the revelations contained in the book.

On Oct 13, 2022, the government declassified the special task force’s report, which among other things, recommended that Thomas be investigated for possible offences. – Bernama