PETALING JAYA: Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas should explain why he withdrew criminal charges against several Pakatan Harapan (PH) politicians and their supporters, lawyers said.
They said Thomas must be transparent in upholding the integrity and credibility of the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).
The lawyers said Thomas could not remain silent as he was holding an office closely monitored by the public, civil society and political parties.
Zainur Zakaria said Thomas must be accountable though it was the sole prerogative and discretion of the AG, as the public prosecutor, to withdraw charges.
He said the AG’s officers might have told the court the grounds for revoking the charges but Thomas owed the public an explanation for his decision.
“Otherwise, it will give the impression that the AGC under the previous Barisan Nasional government was framing charges without strong evidence,” said Zainur, a former Malaysian Bar president.
Zainur said it was a fact that Thomas was aligned with the present PH government and he had also represented DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng in a contempt case.
DAP is a member of the PH coalition.
Zainur said transparency on the part of the AGC would be in line with the assurance by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad that the government would uphold the rule of law at all times.
He said this in response to the withdrawal of charges against Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim, Kampar MP Thomas Su Keong Siong, Sungai Buloh MP R Sivarasa and former Padang Serai MP N Surendran.
Thomas also dropped charges against PH supporters Syarul Ema Rena Abu Samah, popularly known as “Ratu Naga” and political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, better known as Zunar.
They were charged with offences under the Sedition Act, Communications and Multimedia Commission Act, and the Peaceful Assembly Act.
Lawyer Ragunath Kesavan said PH had pledged to review or abolish draconian laws that restricted free speech before the general election.
“There must be a plan of action. They should stop investigations and make a blanket decision to withdraw all the related cases in court,” he said.
Ragunath, who is also a former Bar president, said Thomas could not withdraw charges on a case by case basis as this would be seen as practising favouritism.
“Politicians and supporters aligned to PH are acquitted after charges were dropped. What about others who did not appeal to have their cases withdrawn?” he asked.
Lawyer R Kengadharan said Thomas’s continued silence would give rise to speculation and suspicion which was not good for the PH government.
“It will imply that his (Thomas) predecessor Mohamed Apandi Ali and his officers had carried out persecution of PH politicians and supporters,” he said.
Kengadharan said silence was not an option for Thomas and it was better for him to offer an explanation for the withdrawal.
“No doubt, his explanation will not satisfy everyone but he would have taken the right decision to make a public statement,” he said.