KUCHING, June 4: Sarawak Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) chairman Baru Bian supports Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s pick of Tommy Thomas as the new Attorney-General (AG) but regrets that race and religion issues were brought up over the nomination.
Baru said in a press statement that the appointment of the AG was based on the person’s qualification — which is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court — to be the AG for the Federation, not by his race or religion.
He added that Article 145 (1) of the Federal Constitution provides that ‘The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court to be the Attorney-General for the Federation’.
“By virtue of the Malaysia Agreement 1963, Sabah and Sarawak are equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia, and we are concerned that the law must be followed in the appointment of our next Attorney-General.
“We are disappointed that race and religion have been dragged into the equation when there is no legal basis for these to be of any consideration in the appointment of the Attorney- General.”
Baru said as practised in the Westminster system, the Agong appoints the AG on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Baru, who is a lawyer himself, pointed out that many constitutional lawyers had pointed out that there was no provision in the Federal Constitution for the Agong to reject the Prime Minister’s recommendation in the appointment of the AG.
He said the Agong must know that the recommendation had the approval and support of the component parties of Pakatan Harapan (PH), and of the fact that Malaysians just want to get on with rebuilding and restoring the country.
“Again, a large part of that depends on having a learned, capable and experienced lawyer as AG to deal with the complex legal fallout from the 1MBD corruption scandal,” he said.
The results of the 14th general elections, he stressed, had shown that Malaysians rejected the divisive politics of race and religion practised by UMNO. He added that the various races had come together to elect this new government, and it was truly unfortunate that the reluctance to accept Thomas as the new AG threatened to again separate the people.
“This is a new beginning for Malaysia, where we must learn to look at ourselves as Malaysians, not as Chinese or Malay or Indian or Dayak. As (Tan Sri) Rafidah Aziz said, this is the time for ‘Ketuanan Malaysia’ — the stature, stability and strength of the country must come first.
“Having a competent and untainted AG will go a long way in showing that the new government is serious about the reforms they had promised to undertake.
“The responsibilities of the next AG are onerous and not for the faint-hearted. We fully support the Prime Minister (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) in the choice of Tommy Thomas as our new Attorney General,” said Baru
Dr Mahathir yesterday confirmed that Thomas was the government’s sole nominee for the AG post. He added that the government would not be nominating anyone else for the job, but was quick to add that his administration would work on a solution over the AG impasse with the palace.
Various media had reported that Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V rejected Thomas’s candidacy purportedly because he is non-Malay, non-Muslim and had never been a judge.
Others, including Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) information chief Nasrudin Hassan and Federal Territories UMNO Youth chief Datuk Razlan Rafii, had asserted that the AG candidate should be a Muslim to safeguard Islam as the religion of the federation, the interests of Malaysia’s majority population who are Muslims, and to properly advise the King as the religion’s defenders.
The Conference of Rulers is scheduled to meet tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss the AG’s appointment. — DayakDaily