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PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has come under criticism in former attorney-general Tommy Thomas’ newly published memoir, says that in hindsight he would have named a different man to the post in 2018.
In a special interview with FMT, Mahathir made reference to critical passages in the book, and said: “If I knew that this would happen, I would have selected somebody else, of course. But, at that time, I thought it would be a new experience to have an AG who is professional.”
Thomas was the first non-Malay attorney-general since the formation of Malaysia in 1963 and the first practising lawyer to be directly appointed to the position.
Thomas’ memoir “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness” contains passages about Mahathir and Pakatan Harapan that the Pejuang chief has since rejected.
“I didn’t realise he had some ‘past’, which still seemed to influence him,” Mahathir said, adding that he knew Thomas had been “very much against him” during his first premiership, and had condemned him for dismissing former Lord President Salleh Abas in the judicial crisis of 1987.
Mahathir said he had expected a backlash from the Malay community when he appointed Thomas but went ahead as he felt the need to appoint a non-Malay.
He said: “I thought TT (Thomas) would be a good, professional AG who would do things according to the law, and not because he has to do what I tell him to.”
Mahathir described “some previous attorneys-general” as being unprofessional.
“They made decisions which are not right. For example, Najib Razak was said to have done no wrong, and yet today we know that he has been found guilty. You see, for the AG to say he had done no wrong and to deny a hearing in a court of law is wrong”
Mahathir’s remark appeared to be a reference to Apandi Ali who in January 2016 cleared Najib of any wrongdoing in the SRC International case, which was linked to the 1MDB scandal. Apandi announced that there would be no charges brought against Najib, who was then prime minister.
In July last year, Najib was found guilty by the High Court on seven charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering in relation to RM42 million belonging to SRC International.