Opposition leaders have questioned the motive behind Umno’s call for the government to form a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into revelations made by former attorney-general Tommy Thomas about political interference in matters concerning the judiciary.
They also ask if it is a ploy by Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and the so-called court cluster to escape legal repercussions.
Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub questioned the integrity of Zahid’s request despite its apparent grounding in the name of judicial reform.
“Why only Thomas’ revelations?” he asked. “Is Zahid trying to save himself?
“If he truly believes in justice for all, let him ask for investigations to be held into all cases,” the Pulai MP told MalaysiaNow.
“If Zahid honestly wants an RCI to be formed, RCIs should also be set up to probe all high-profile cases, not just what Thomas has said.”
“If he truly believes in justice for all, let him ask for investigations to be held into all cases.”
Zahid made the call after a meeting of the Umno Supreme Council on Friday, its first since vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob was sworn in as prime minister.
He said the request for an RCI into the revelations by Thomas in his autobiography, “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness”, was one of several matters discussed and agreed on during the meeting which Ismail himself had also attended.
“Umno must be a pioneer in efforts for institutional reform in the various branches of government,” he said.
PKR’s Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah said Zahid did not actually understand the revelations Thomas had made in his book, adding that the call should not be entertained.
“If an RCI is formed, it should be on institutional reforms that affect us in terms of the economy and social issues, especially health and politics which involve all three branches of government,” she told MalaysiaNow.
“If this is done, the proposals must be disclosed, debated and passed in Parliament.”
Lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla agreed that Zahid’s call might be driven by an ulterior motive.
If the Bagan Datuk MP was honestly interested in judicial reforms, he said, the revelations of former Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Becker should be included as well.
He added that this had been mentioned by Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Feb 21, 2019.
“If his request has basis, let it continue. The question now is why only Thomas? Why not include what was revealed by Hamid?” said Haniff who had represented Hamid in the case.
“If the prime minister has agreed with Zahid’s request, I ask that it include Hamid’s revelations to prove that the new government truly has integrity. Continue what Mahathir wanted done before,” he said, referring to Hamid’s affidavit in 2019 detailing incidents of judicial interference.
Zahid recently came under fire from social media users after his admission to hospital days before the start of his corruption case which had already been delayed several times.
He was among those who had campaigned strongly to oust Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister, resulting in the latter’s resignation after losing his majority support.
Zahid is facing 33 charges of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million (RM42 million) from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd as an inducement for himself in his capacity as a civil servant and home minister at the time to extend the contract of the company as the operator of the one-stop centre in China and the foreign visa or VLN system, as well as to maintain the agreement to supply VLN integrated system paraphernalia to the same company by the home ministry.