Sepang MP Hanipa Maidin said the nation should move beyond race in appointing the A-G, and there is no legal or constitutional provision for the A-G to be Malay or a Muslim.
Tommy Thomas, the candidate proposed for Attorney-General (A-G), not only has the in-depth legal knowledge, “but more importantly, he is a senior lawyer with the utmost integrity, that is crucial for being an A-G,” said Hanipa Maidin, who chairs the Legal Bureau of Parti Amanah Negara.
In a letter to Malaysiakini, he said that honestly, he fully supports the proposed candidate, “without any doubt”.
Hanipa recalled his experience with Thomas while handling a contempt of court case filed by Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) against a lady lawyer called Puan Fahdah and the writer/activist Ahmad Lutfi Othman.
Thomas was representing Fahdah and Hanipa was acting for Ahmad Lutfi. They won the case.
“I saw a lawyer who was fantastic (amat hebat) and highly credible (berwibawa),” recounted Hanipa.
However, he is disappointed with the online debate where issues of race and religion are being brought forward in the appointment of the new A-G.
“Terus terang, saya betul-betul muak dan bosan dengan isu perkauman tersebut. (Frankly, I am really disgusted and tired of such racial issues).
“With respect, I feel we should all act honestly. Firstly, there is no provision in the laws nor in the Federal Constitution that makes it compulsory for the A-G to be a Malay/Muslim.”
He added that the lofty spirit of the Constitution as the country’s social contract should be “respected and protected”.
In addition, Hanipa said we should look at recent history.
“Wasn’t the previous A-G – who was chosen by the Barisan Nasional regime – a Malay/Muslim? But look at the damage he did to the reputation and good name of the A-G institution.”
“Similarly, look at who damaged the national financial system with all kinds of mega scandals.
“Why did the A-G, who is a Malay/Muslim, protect those who were implicated (terpalit) with those mega scandals, who were also Malay/Muslim?
“Lihatlah juga bagaimana wujudnya para agamawan yang tidak segan silu selalu bertindak memberi “nyawa” kepada pihak yang telah rosakkan negara ini. Tolonglah janganlah tutup mata kita.”
(Look also at how there are religious people who shamelessly always give ‘life’ to those who have damaged this country. Please, don’t close our eyes to this.)
“So, I want to remind everyone that this Malaysia is a country for all, not for (a particular) race, ethnic group or religion. Full stop.”
“We all have a role and responsibility to bring up a new Malaysia. Narrow racial politics – sorry – that has become history!”
Former Minister Tan Seri Rais Yatim said on Twitter: “Follow Art 145 of the Federal Constitution. The King, with very limited exceptions, stands advised as per Art 40. Let the PM get on with the job with his Cabinet.”
“There is nothing wrong with Tommy Thomas as A-G. Stop this bickering when there is no legal ground to bicker.”
Veteran journalist Datuk Kadir Jasin said the federal constitution puts clear limits on the authority of a constitutional monarch.
“What’s the use of having Malays in high positions if that Malay is cruel, corrupt, and someone who collaborates with thieves and speculators?” he said, adding that integrity was more important than race.
Reportedly, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has rejected appointing Thomas as the A-G, with varied media reports on the reasons.
According to news portal The Malaysian Insight, the King is not keen on the ethnic Indian lawyer due to racial and religious reasons while The Star daily claimed the monarch preferred candidates who have experience sitting on the Bench.
Lawyers have expressed concern at the delay and its impact on the current state of legal affairs in the country, saying the A-G post is effectively non-functioning with Apandi Ali disallowed from working.
Meanwhile, Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal Tan Sri Syed Danial Syed Ahmad said the Malay Rulers will deliberate on the appointment of the new Attorney General on Tuesday (June 5).
“The Malay Rulers have been following this development and consider it their responsibility to help resolve this impasse,” Syed Danial was quoted as saying in a statement to The Star.