Indian-origin legal eagle to be Malaysia’s new Attorney General

Tommy Thomas Malaysia's Attorney-General
Tommy Thomas Malaysias Attorney General
Tommy Thomas Malaysia’s Attorney-General

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Tommy Thomas, a top ethnic Indian lawyer was today appointed Malaysia’s new Attorney General by the king, who appealed to Malaysians to not to “create religious or racial conflict” over the decision, amid protests from Islamic groups against his nomination.

A palace statement said Sultan Muhammad V has approved terminating the current Attorney General Mohamad Apandi Ali and replacing him with Thomas, the first from the minority community to hold the post in 55 years in the Muslim-majority nation.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had recently proposed to nominate Thomas, 66, as the Attorney-General, the official Bernama news agency reported.

The king called on all Malaysians to accept that the appointment of the Attorney-General should “not create religious or racial conflict as every Malaysian should be fairly treated regardless of race and religion.”

The appointment of Thomas as the top legal officer would not affect the special rights and privileges of the Malays and Bumiputeras, as well as the status of Islam as the federal religion, the agency said.

The king also expressed his disappointment and worry about “inaccurate and negative” media reports of late which could threaten peace and harmony in the country, it said.

Thomas is best known as a constitutional law expert and a civil litigator in court cases in matters as varied as administrative law, banking, and finance, corporate and commercial law.

He has been a lawyer in Malaysia for 42 years, having been called to the Bar in the United Kingdom in 1975 and called to the Malaysian Bar in 1976, reported.

Kuala Lumpur-born Thomas is also an alumni of Victoria Institution, the University of Manchester and the London School of Economics.

He had also served the legal community in peninsular Malaysia through the Malaysian Bar’s governing body Bar Council, which he was a member of during 1984-1988 and 1993-2001 including a stint as Bar Council secretary from 1995-1997.

The appointment of Thomas has caused division among the Malaysian public as petitions – both objecting and supporting his nomination – have cropped up.

Parti Islam Se-Malaysia’s information chief on Saturday also protested against the government’s pick, saying that the candidate should be an individual “who can protect Islam as the official religion of the country”.

The Malaysian government had defended its nomination of Thomas, saying that it would be the right signal to send to Malaysians and the rest of the world that the new administration was serious about reforming the country’s institutions. PTI

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