PETALING JAYA : Former attorney-general Tommy Thomas said that two cases during his tenure, namely those regarding Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), illustrate the societal racism Pakatan Harapan (PH) dealt with while in government.
In his book, “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness”, released yesterday, he said that “when thousands of people make similar decisions and judgements of their compatriots, then society itself is racist”.
“This is what the PH government constantly faced after GE14.”
In the case of fireman Adib, he said that the public outcry following the 2018 incident came in stark contrast to the relative quiet after six divers from the Water Rescue Unit of the Fire and Rescue Department drowned, a case which the latter did not want to pursue publicly despite his protests.
Adib had been severely injured after being left behind in the line of duty while putting out a fire near Seafield Temple in Subang. People at the scene spotted him and drove him to hospital. He died in hospital several weeks later.
“Because the persons present at the area around the temple at the time of the incident were Hindus, within hours social media had sensationalised Adib’s injuries as being the result of a beating by Indians.
“Lying became so rife and rampant that bloggers and other internet contributors lost the ability to distinguish fact from fiction,” Thomas wrote.
After investigations by numerous police units and the AG’s office, no crime was found to have been committed. He said Adib had been injured when he was struck by a reversing fire engine while trying to re-enter a different vehicle, and thus no blame was assigned.
After Adib succumbed to his injuries, Thomas said that the “public baying for revenge was abhorrent”, stoked by accusations that Indians had murdered Adib.
This prompted him to call for a transparent inquest rather than ask the police to release their findings, which later found that “two or three people” had caused the death of Adib, which Thomas found to be “bizarre”.
“How (the coroner) could reach this finding is mind-boggling when the police, with their experience, expertise, manpower and resources, could not.”
In the case of the LTTE, he referred to the October 2019 arrests of 12 men for alleged terrorist ties to the Sri Lankan militant group.
They were charged under Section 130J and 130JB of the Penal Code, and detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma), which allows for detention of suspects until trial.
“The LTTE arrests came as a shock to many PH ministers. They realised, perhaps for the first time, how powerless they were on law-and-order matters despite being the duly elected government of the day.”
Thomas explained that he was “troubled” by the impending trial of the men as the prosecution’s case against them was weak.
LTTE’s categorisation as a terrorist group at the time was tenuous, he said, as it had not carried out any attacks since its defeat in 2009.
Furthermore, as the men’s actions did not intend to cause harm or death, Tommy believed the case against them for committing terrorist acts was weak and dropped the case and allowed for the men’s release.
“Dr Mahathir Mohamad was satisfied with my explanation since there was no realistic possibility of a conviction for any of the 12 accused.”