Malaysian A-G faces calls for his removal after dropping terror case

Police arrested 12 men in swoops last October over alleged links to defunct Sri Lankan terror group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Attorney-General Tommy Thomas (above) said he found insufficient evidence to back the prosecution's case. PHOTOS: MA
Police arrested 12 men in swoops last October over alleged links to defunct Sri Lankan terror group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said he found insufficient evidence to back the prosecution's case. PHOTOS: MALAYSIAN POLICE, CHINA PRESS (MALAYSIA)
Police arrested 12 men in swoops last October over alleged links to defunct Sri Lankan terror group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Attorney-General Tommy Thomas (above) said he found insufficient evidence to back the prosecution's case. PHOTOS: MA
Police arrested 12 men in swoops last October over alleged links to defunct Sri Lankan terror group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Attorney-General Tommy Thomas (above) said he found insufficient evidence to back the prosecution's case. PHOTOS: MALAYSIAN POLICE, CHINA PRESS (MALAYSIA)

Malaysian opposition party Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) has threatened to organise a big rally if the government retains Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, while the Muslim Lawyers Association said it plans to call on the Malaysian King to replace the top prosecutor, after his controversial decision to drop a terrorism-related case against 12 men.

Tan Sri Thomas on Friday dropped charges against the men, including two state lawmakers from the Democratic Action Party (DAP) - a component party of ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) - for alleged links to defunct Sri Lankan terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The move was praised by the DAP, which has been pushing for the charges to be dropped after the 12 ethnic-Indian individuals were arraigned last year using a controversial anti-terrorism law.

The two DAP lawmakers are Melaka state executive councillor G. Saminathan and Negeri Sembilan assemblyman P. Gunasekaran.

But the A-G's decision has opened the government to criticism of overreaching its powers to protect ruling coalition supporters.

Mr Thomas said on Friday that his decision to drop the case was made using his discretionary powers, as he found insufficient evidence to back the prosecution's case.

Mr Kamaruzaman Mohamad, information chief at PAS, said yesterday that the party would hold a demonstration if its demand that Mr Thomas be removed is not heeded by PH.

"If our demands are not fulfilled, we will move for a massive public rally to demand the cleansing and purifying of the attorney-general institution," he said.

Security officials told The Sunday Times before the A-G's decision was announced that such a move could make the fight against terrorism harder because evidence that had been presented, such as huge money transfers by those nabbed and believed to be LTTE sympathisers, was set aside.

The Muslim Lawyers Association urged a judicial review to be filed to challenge the A-G's decision.

The Bar Council, taking the opposite stance, asked Mr Thomas to explain why the men had been charged in the first place under what it calls the "draconian" anti-terror law - Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 - which the council says is an "affront to natural justice".

Meanwhile, Malaysia's Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday said the defunct LTTE will remain listed as a terrorist organisation, setting aside a suggestion by Mr Thomas for a review.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin said countries including India, Canada, the United States and Britain continue to list the LTTE as a terrorist group.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 23, 2020, with the headline 'Malaysian A-G faces calls for his removal after dropping terror case'. Print Edition | Subscribe