Media Release: Tommy Thomas has big shoes to fill for reform


PETALING JAYA (Wednesday): C4 Center congratulates Tommy Thomas in his appointment as Attorney General but reminds him and the public of the work that the Attorney General’s Chambers is not only pivotal for seeking justice in outstanding corruption scandals, but also for longer-term reforms.

“We congratulate the very capable Tommy Thomas for his appointment to the attorney general’s chambers as a senior lawyer in the fraternity. We look forward to bringing those responsible for damaging the nation to justice… but beyond that, there are many reforms he can and needs to bring to fruition.”

Cynthia Gabriel, C4 Center

After some controversy with the Pakatan Harapan Government’s nomination of Tommy Thomas as the first non-Malay Attorney General since 1963, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong made the appointment in the early hours of Monday morning. His appointment is symbolic of the possibilities we can achieve in this new Malaysia.

However, in the spirit of reform, integrity and accountability, much lies ahead beyond  the prosecution of 1MDB in ensuring that a scandal of such magnitude does not happen again.

From what we already know of 1MDB, the complicity spreads across multiple government institutions and agencies. His role as government counsel in drafting laws will be pivotal in creating the change we need to see in governance in Malaysia.

  • We hope that Thomas and C4 Center are of the same mind in the need to pursue justice over 1MDB, and looking ahead, the implications for a law that enables greater public or parliamentary oversight over government-linked companies and government-linked investment funds.
  • We need a separation of the Attorney General’s Chambers, Tommy Thomas’ very own office. The questionable refusal of the previous Attorney General indicates that it is high time we follow the lead of every other country to separate the role of government counsel and public prosecutor into two separate offices.
  • We must not forget that many other scandals still deserve prosecutorial attention, such as FELDA’s questionable purchase of PT Eagle High Plantations, the kickbacks in the Scorpene submarine purchase, and now someone must answer for the revealed ‘Pipeline to Nowhere’ costing 9.4bil MYR.
  • We stress that the Official Secrets Act, needs to be repealed and replaced with a Freedom of Information Act that narrowly specifies what can be a secret. We can no longer afford to see such Red Files and hidden Attorney General reports shielding corruption from the day of light.
  • We need a clear Public Asset Declaration Law which compels spouses of all ministers and Members of Parliament to also declare their assets. While we do not expect every spouse to be as saintly as Siti Hasmah, we certainly cannot afford another Rosmah who unashamedly lives in the lap of luxury. At the very least, we need a review process that can compel the AGC to carry out prosecution in matters of public interest, like 1MDB.
  • We need a proper Political Financing Law so that money politics and the usage of caretaker government resources for partisan gain during elections can be stopped once and for all.

We are in no doubt that Tommy Thomas will have the upmost dedication and work ethic as the government’s top counsel and prosecutor. We hope that such ardour will be directed not only at finally putting the sprawling 1MDB issue to rest but also to safeguard Malaysia from such internal predation ever again.

We look forward to working with him together in the dawn of our New Malaysia, where ethnicity does not simply trump capability, and that we can move forward together as one nation united.


Released by:
Cynthia Gabriel (Ms.)
Executive Director, C4 Center