PETALING JAYA: Former attorney-general (AG) Tommy Thomas, who resigned just before the expiration of his two-year contract in June, says he did so because of the political change in the country.
“My position as AG was that of a political appointee and made by Dr Mahathir Mohamad,” he told FMT.
“Once the prime minister tendered his resignation, it was incumbent on me to do so because I was appointed by him. It was also important for me to step aside and allow the incoming prime minister to appoint his own AG.”
He also said his decision to step down following the political change at the top was in line with tradition in the UK and other mature democracies.
Mahathir took many by surprise when he supported the nomination of the senior litigator as AG, just after Pakatan Harapan wrested control of Putrajaya in May 2018.
The appointment of a non-Malay and an individual from outside the branch of government as AG was a break from the convention of appointing former judges or senior government officials.
Thomas set the wheels in motion for trials related to the 1MDB scandal, and the AG’s Chambers (AGC) put Najib Razak, Rosmah Mansor, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, among others, in the dock to be tried for corruption and criminal breach of trust.
He appointed former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram as well as top criminal lawyer V Sithambaram to help the AGC prosecute high-profile cases.
From the outset, however, his appointment as AG was challenged by Umno, PAS and several other Malay NGOs.
Sources told FMT that Thomas conveyed his decision to Mahathir personally and voiced gratitude for the support he had received throughout his 21 months as the government’s top legal officer.
Thomas said he planned to take a break but that he would always be grateful to Mahathir for the privilege of serving the country.
“I tried my best to do justice and prevent injustice until my last day in office. I am thankful for the privilege to serve,” he said.