Malaysian Bar: ‘Untimely’ declassification of report on Tommy Thomas an abuse of power?

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The Malaysian Bar has questioned if declassification of the report detailing Putrajaya’s investigation into former attorney-general Tommy Thomas’ book is tantamount to an abuse of power.

In a statement today, the Malaysian Bar raised concern over the potential impartiality of the report, particularly after caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob admitted to planning on using it as political “bullets” to attack the opposition party.

“The Malaysian Bar puts on record that it is perturbed by the untimely declassification of the Special Task Force (STF) report which coincides with the recent dissolution of Parliament on Oct 10 and the upcoming general election on Nov 19.

“It was reported that our premier, who is also Umno vice-president, urged BN’s election machinery to capitalise on the declassified report, which could potentially be an abuse of power.

“He further openly admitted during a pre-campaign period rally that he declassified the report so that it can be used as political ‘bullets’ to attack the opposition party,” said its president Karen Cheah.

“Such blatant admission, if true, begs the question of good faith in the establishment of the STF and whether the STF report was non-partisan and reliable for justice to be properly administered, and whether justice can be achieved in the event that possible persecutions arise as a result of the STF’s report,” she added.

Cheah pointed out that if any reports should be declassified as a matter of urgency, then the STF report relating to the enforced disappearances of Amri Che Mat and Raymond Koh should take priority.

“At a time where political uncertainty is simmering and coming to a boil, the rakyat must have confidence and faith in the institutions that govern them.

“Justice is not mere lip service, but an act that has to be seen to be done by our institutions,” she said.

Last December, the cabinet set up a task force to probe Thomas’ book titled ‘My Story: Justice in the Wilderness’.

The book covered Thomas’ stint as attorney-general from 2018 to 2020. Among others, he addressed the appointment of judges, alleged interference by the executive in the judiciary and claims of selective prosecution.

The task force had recommended that Thomas be probed for sedition and breaking government secrecy laws. The task force also suggested that Thomas interfered in judicial appointments.

Ismail Sabri said then that Thomas would be investigated under Section 4 of the Sedition Act for attempting to carry out any act that has a seditious tendency.

Section 4 provides a maximum jail term of three years, an RM5,000 fine, or both.

Thomas was also probed under Section 8 of the Official Secrets Act for divulging secrets, Section 23 of the MACC Act for abuse of power, and Sections 124I (disseminating false reports) and 203A (disclosing information) of the Penal Code. – Malaysiakini