A DAP lawmaker said today that there is no conflict of interest in attorney-general Tommy Thomas leading the prosecution team in the graft trial of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.
According to Jelutong MP RSN Rayer, Thomas' playing the role of lead prosecutor could not possibly go against Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto as no such pledge was made in the first place.
"As lawyers, we are trained to act professionally without fear of favour, and there is nothing in the Legal Profession (Rules of Etiquette) Rules 1978 which prohibits Thomas continuing to lead the prosecution team," he said in a statement.
Rayer was referring to a report in Free Malaysia Today in which lawyer N Sivananthan advised Thomas to distance himself from the team prosecuting Najib.
Sivananthan argued that the attorney-general leading the prosecution in such a high profile case would contravene promises made in Harapan’s manifesto.
In his statement, Rayer also pointed out that Thomas is not a member of any political party.
"May I also say that Thomas is not a member of any political party in the Harapan coalition, unlike former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali, whose political affiliations with Umno were a public secret.
"Thomas is not a member of the DAP, Bersatu, Amanah or PKR," he said.
"Further, unlike (Apandi’s predecessor) Abdul Gani Patail, who was notorious for selective and politically motivated prosecutions, Thomas' reputation in the legal fraternity is untainted and impeccable, making him the most suitable member of the Malaysian Bar to be appointed the attorney-general.”
Rayer said unless Sivananthan can refer to any specific instances where Thomas is alleged to have made pre-judgemental statements against Najib and the IMDB issue in the past, there is no cogent reasons for the attorney-general to be recused from the prosecution team.
"As lawyers, one way or the other, one would be called upon to express one’s opinions about the IMDB saga, and that in itself should not be used against a lawyer to recuse him from acting in a capacity as the attorney-general.
It was reported yesterday that Najib is citing a 2016 opinion piece written by Thomas for Malaysiakini in his legal challenge to disqualify the latter from the case.
"Thomas' stand is clear that he does not like me, as portrayed in the article, and this causes concern that he may find ways to prefer a charge against me for any reason. Hence, I have lodged a report on June 18 following this.
"The article also shows that he has his own stand in this and I feel that I have not been given a just or fair consideration. Hence, Thomas is not qualified to be involved in the investigations," the former premier said in his originating ex-parte summons.
Najib has claimed trial to three counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of abuse of power in relation to transactions involving SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former 1MDB subsidiary.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.