GEORGE TOWN: Former attorney-general Tommy Thomas said he would only charge an individual in court if he felt he could “win the case”.
Defending his decision to drop some charges when he was in office, Thomas also said that when it came to prosecuting someone, his decisions were based on the evidence provided, the investigation papers and the law.
“And I always ask myself, can we win the case, because it’s not fair to put somebody in the dock when the prosecution cannot win the case,” he said in an interview with former diplomat Dennis Ignatius today.
Thomas said that was the only criteria he used, and when the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) reviewed past cases or decisions made by his predecessors, he would put on his “lawyer’s hat” and look at the chances of winning the case.
Otherwise, he said, he would drop it.
“This is the same test we applied for Azmin, LTTE and all those cases,” he said, referring to international trade and industry minister Azmin Ali and the 12 individuals accused of having links to the now-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
In January 2020, Thomas decided not to prosecute anyone linked to the leaked sex videos purportedly involving Azmin, who had denied he was the person in the videos.
In February last year, Thomas dropped the charges against 12 people who were detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) because there was “no realistic prospect for conviction” on any of the 34 charges brought against them.
“If I charge, I thought we could win, and if I did not charge, I thought we would lose. Those were the factors, they were legal considerations,” he said.
Thomas also defended his decision to recuse himself from being involved in Lim Guan Eng’s corruption cases in 2018 on grounds that the then finance minister’s trial was a matter of public interest.
The AGC had also stated then that Thomas was well aware of the fact that the rules of conflict of interest applied to him as well, and that it took steps to ensure the role of the top prosecutor remained impartial.
Opening up on the matter, Thomas said he was a firm believer in the principle of the conflict of interest and it was something he tried to practise “all of my life”.
He said that he told the solicitor-general it was up to him to decide on the case and that he did not want to know anything about it.
“That is the truth, and if readers don’t want to believe it, then it is up to them.”