Far from the glowing tributes splashed across the back of his recently published autobiography, former attorney-general Tommy Thomas has been criticised for failing to display humility as well as focusing on trivial issues, in reviews from the US posted on Amazon’s online bookstore.
The Kindle e-book version of “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness” has been placed at the top of a small genre called “Biographies of Lawyers & Judges”, with a mere one-star rating based on reviews which not only questioned the contents of the book but also accused it of lacking in consistency, and being written in a tone that does not befit the work of a person who left a top legal office.
“The inconsistent use of ‘AGC’ and ‘Chambers’ grated on me like nails on a chalkboard. You may think I’m nitpicking but I worked in AGC/Chambers for seven years and if ever I deigned to submit a memo with ‘AGC/Chambers’ used interchangeably as the former attorney-general has done, I am absolutely certain that the memo would have been returned to me in a pile of ashes,” said one review.
“If the reader can’t rely on consistency and cross checking on small items, then what more of the big issues?”
The reader also described Tommy’s language as “overly colloquial”.
“It generally read like something an uncle would spew over the course of dinner after putting on his tin-foiled hat,” the review said, adding that this should not be the style of a lawyer of “such great calibre as he often reminds us in his book”.
Another review took Thomas to task for starting the book “with a preamble coloured by caste-identity driven self-aggrandisement”.
“It is very disappointing indeed to see men like Tommy Thomas who achieve such success and erudition fall prey to such parochial instincts,” the reader said.
“It is also a brazen betrayal of the fundamental tenets of the very religion, Christianity, his ‘community’ embraced some time ago.”
In the first chapter of Thomas’ book touching on his Syrian Christian belief – whose followers number less than 3,000 in Malaysia – he declared that being born to parents from the small religious community was the greatest “infinite blessing”.
It was not the first time Thomas had made strong religious undertones in public. Days after he was named as attorney-general in 2018, he described his appointment as a “miracle” from God.
“I was appointed because of God’s miracles. God has answered our prayers,” he had said, in an address to the Sunday mass in his church which was captured on video. “Thousands of Christians and churches prayed for me, so it is really a miracle.”
The reviewer questioned why Thomas was appointed to the post, suggesting that he did not qualify to be given an “extraordinary opportunity and privilege” to occupy a position that was historically denied to non-Malay candidates.
It said there were some insightful chapters in the book, but that Thomas’ unabashed tone was a problem.
“While the later chapters appear to offer insights that are intriguing, a little humility would have softened and rounded his prose,” it added.