Thomas made Dr M do his bidding and interfere in appointment of judges, declassified report alleges
PETALING JAYA: Four individuals appointed to the top judicial posts in July 2018 differed from those selected by the Judicial Appointment Commission (JAC) and conveyed to then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in June 2018, according the recently declassified special task force report on former attorney general (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas’ memoirs.
The report found that those who were appointed “were exactly the names privately agreed between the prime minister and Thomas as stated at page 338 of the book.”
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According to the report, Thomas allegedly exerted his influence as AG and took further steps to drag Dr Mahathir in to interfere in the selection and appointment of chiefs of judges and judges after his proposals were not entertained by the Chief Justice.
In July 2018, Tan Sri Richard Malanjum was appointed as Chief Justice, Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop as Court of Appeal President, Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim as Chief Judge of Malaya and Datuk David Wong Dak Wah as Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak.
The report also alleged that Thomas interfered in the appointment of judges in the Court of Appeal.
“…Thomas had taken a personal interest in the appointment of judges, including submitting three names of members of the Bar for direct appointment to the Court of Appeal.
“Thomas, as the then AG, should not have discussed and/or got involved in any matter concerning the appointment of the judges at all as this is essentially the statutory function of the JAC.
“The Chief Justice had rightly, after having consulted the JAC, decided not to entertain Thomas’ proposal. Thomas ought not to even put forward candidates for judicial appointments to the Chief Justice. After that, Thomas approached the prime minister,” the report stated.
It further stated that what Thomas did after he was rebuffed by the Chief Justice was “to attempt to use political or executive influence to have his proposed candidates on the Court of Appeal.
“Such action is contrary to what is provided in the JAC Act (2009) which requires the Prime Minister to uphold the continued independence of the Judiciary,” said the report.
“Thomas as AG had failed in his duty to advise the Prime Minister that he had no power to select candidates for judicial appointment.
“Instead, he wanted the Prime Minister to do his bidding in a manner contrary to the law pertaining to selection and appointment of judges,” stated the report.
The special task force was put together by the government to check on allegations made by Thomas in his memoir titled “My Story: Justice In The Wilderness”.
The special task force was chaired by Sarawak legal adviser and former state attorney general Datuk Seri Fong Joo Chung, and had seven other members appointed for their expertise on various matters.
The declassified report by the task force was published on Oct 21 on the website of the Legal Affairs Division under the Prime Minister’s Department.
Published last year, the book was criticised by various quarters including the current Attorney General’s Chambers and some politicians for allegedly containing elements of incitement, insults and defamation.
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