PKR president Anwar Ibrahim has launched a stinging attack on Tommy Thomas’ autobiography, saying his views on government lawyers are not only an insult to the civil servants but also smack of racism.
“It betrays a deep-seated, even Freudian-like, prejudice against Malays fomented through years of racism,” Anwar wrote in his first public reaction to the former attorney-general’s book “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness”.
“It is important that we avoid remarks that could be interpreted as an embodiment of that innate sense of superiority that the white men used to have over their colonial charges.”
After a lengthy review, Anwar concluded that the book was replete with generalisations and suffered from a “flawed angle of investigation”, making particular defence of second prime minister Razak Hussein.
Thomas in his book suggested that Razak, who declared an emergency in the wake of the May 13 incident in 1969 and went on to become Malaysia’s second prime minister, had been complicit in the bloody racial riots of that year.
Among others, he said it was inconceivable that Razak had opposed the racial slogans chanted by youths that precipitated the riots.
“I believe that coming from someone who has held the highest legal office of the land, it is so irresponsible that it is res ipsa loquitur and I mean it beyond the confines of legal jargon,” he said.
Anwar said Thomas failed to present any evidence other than that which was conjectural and spoke of “recklessness” bordering on conspiracy theory.
He said it was wrong for Thomas to make the claim simply on the assertion that Razak stood to gain politically from the emergency declaration.
“What remains is an afront to the collective consciousness of Malaysians, particularly the Malay community, that holds and cherishes his memory close to their hearts,” he said.
Anwar also took a strong stand against Thomas’ claim that former solicitor-general III Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria was incompetent to lead the prosecution in the 1MDB corruption cases.
“Suffice it to say that here again, Thomas seems to have gone off the rails and put his foot in not just his own mouth, but Hanafiah’s as well as possibly the entire AG’s Chambers’ because it would be obvious that the remarks have caused grave embarrassment to them,” he said.
He said Thomas further insulted government lawyers by describing them as civil servants “awaiting pension upon retirement”.
“In one fell swoop, Thomas has not only insulted the AG’s Chambers but publicly disparaged the entire civil service of the nation.
“The notion that civil servants are in service just to earn fixed salaries with the only ambition to collect their pensions when they retire is the sort of resentment founded in anger and slight, not rational criticism. Such a gross generalisation is unbecoming.”
Anwar, who was imprisoned twice on charges of sodomy, said despite his “dark experiences” with the AGC, he would not make a generalised statement on its professionalism.
“One bad apple does not spoil the entire barrel and I strongly believe that we are blessed with an efficient, effective and professional organisation.”
He said he was “dumbfounded” as to how Thomas could have adopted “a condescending attitude towards our civil servants and uttered such insensitive, high and mighty remarks”.
Anwar further hit out at Thomas for giving the impression that the Malay community has been afflicted by racism.
Thomas in his book among others blamed the Malay leaders of Pakatan Harapan (PH), the coalition Anwar currently leads which formed the previous government, saying they had failed to act when their non-Malay colleagues were racially attacked.
“Not one word is said about the racism that is inherent among the other communities as well and this is yet another fatal misstep,” he said.
Anwar said he was also “stumped” by remarks Thomas had made on the murder trial of former Cradle Fund CEO Nazrin Hassan.
Thomas in his book had cast doubt on the credibility of Samirah Muzaffar and her two teenage sons, who are accused of committing the 2018 murder of her former husband. Last week, the trial judge allowed for contempt proceedings to be initiated.
“Again, why would Thomas, with his years of experience at the bench as well as expected familiarity with the law of contempt (having been attorney-general) go on such a kamikaze frolic with nary a care that these statements would come back to haunt him?” asked Anwar.