KUALA LUMPUR – Ex-Malaysian premier Najib Razak will file a defamation suit against former attorney-general Tommy Thomas over parts of the senior lawyer’s memoir, Bernama news agency reported, while at least seven police reports have been lodged against the book for making what were allegedly unfounded claims.
Najib and his family are also considering legal options against Tan Sri Thomas, The Star newspaper reported on Saturday (Jan 6), over a chapter that seemed to cast aspersions on their late father, ex-prime minister Razak Hussein, in the deadly 1969 race riots.
Former premier Mahathir Mohamad has said he regretted appointing Mr Thomas to the position in 2018 soon after the Pakatan Harapan government came to power.
Mr Thomas’ former colleagues in the Attorney-General Chambers are seething over his criticism of what he claimed were the poor working attitude of public prosecutors.
Najib’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, when contacted by Bernama on Saturday, said: “Yes, we are suing him. Yesterday (Friday), Thomas had replied to our letter of demand and he said that he did not defame our client.
“The publisher, namely, GB Gerakbudaya Enterprise Sdn Bhd, has not replied to our letter.
“We are going to file a defamation suit against both Thomas and the publisher as soon as possible.”
Najib through Shafee’s firm on Tuesday (Feb 2) sent a letter to Mr Thomas to demand an apology and RM10 million (S$3.3 million) in damages over allegations in the memoir in chapter 42 under the title “Altantuya”.
Najib had given the former A-G until Friday noon to reply and demanded an apology and public retraction of the alleged defamatory statements in the book.
Ms Altantuya, who was 28, was shot and her body blown up with explosives in a gruesome murder in 2006 by police commandos. The two men had been convicted of the Altantuya murder.
Meanwhile, police have received at least seven public reports complaining against the content of Mr Thomas’ memoir, My Story: Justice in the Wilderness.
Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan lodged a police report against Mr Thomas on Friday for allegedly twisting Malaysia’s history in the 1969 race riots, and for insulting prosecutors in the A-G Chambers, Bernama news agency reported.
Mr Ahmad claimed that references linking ex-premier Tun Razak to the 1969 riots in the book were seditious and malicious, and could cause hatred towards the government.
On Mr Thomas’ claim about the attitude of government prosecutors, the Judicial and Legal Service Officers’ Association (Jalsoa) issued a statement on Wednesday to say the remarks insulted its members.
“Thomas’ view is very uncivilised and reflects his shallow thinking. Any dissatisfaction he felt while dealing with legal officers was uncalled for and should not be scribbled for public scrutiny,” Jalsoa said.
“That perception is Thomas’ own creation over his failure to lead the Attorney-General’s Chambers as well as his lack of understanding of public service administration,” it added.
One of the police reports was made by Datuk Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria who was the former solicitor-general III at the A-G Chambers.
He said the claims in Mr Thomas’s book had tarnished his image as a Deputy Public Prosecutor who has served for 33 years.
“What he wrote was not true as he supposedly made it seem that I was lazy and was not able to handle the prosecution in the SRC International trial,” he said in his police report which was lodged on Tuesday (Feb 2). SRC was formerly a unit of scandal-tainted state fund 1MDB.
There is also ongoing debate in the legal fraternity whether Mr Thomas, as the government’s chief prosecutor, has the right to publicly air his views about decisions made by the government.
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