KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 (Bernama) — The High Court here today has directed the originating summons (OS) filed by former attorney-general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas regarding an investigation report on the contents of his memoir titled ‘My Story: Justice In the Wilderness’, to be converted to a civil suit and disposed off via full trial.
Judge Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh said he will now seek directions from the managing judge as to which civil court that the OS has to be transferred.
“I’m not prepared to strike out this OS. However, I am directing that this OS be heard and disposed via a full trial by a civil suit.
“Since the matter will be heard by a judge of a civil division, I will refrain from making any determination on the constitutionality or legality of the special task force (STF). It has to be canvassed at the civil court,” the judge said.
Wan Ahmad Farid said this case also involves disputed issues of facts.
COURT-TOMMY THOMAS 2 KUALA LUMPUR
“The plaintiff (Thomas) is adamant that the whole exercise – the setting up of the STF, the declassification of the STF Report and its eventual release, the timing – which was close to the 15th General Election was due to one purpose – to attack the credibility of the plaintiff.
“In order to prove his point, the plaintiff relied on a speech made by the then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob during a Barisan Nasional rally in Bagan Datuk on Oct 17, 2022. In the rally, Ismail Sabri purportedly told the crowd that he had caused the STF report to be made public so that it could be used as political bullets for the GE,” he said.
According to Wan Ahmad Farid, in this OS, the plaintiff sought relief inter alia for the alleged reputational loss.
“The plaintiff said his constitutional rights were violated. He sought compensation. But the long and short of it is, it boils down to the claim of loss of reputation. The fact that the plaintiff anchored his claim on the potential breach of his constitutional rights does not dilute the main claim which is based on the tort of defamation.
“A claim of this nature cannot be resolved by way of affidavit evidence and shall be begun by writ,” he said when delivering today’s decision via Zoom proceeding. The judge made a decision with no order as to cost.
Thomas filed the suit on Oct 27, 2022, naming the special task force’s chairman Datuk Seri Fong Joo Chung, seven other members of the team, as well as the government as defendants.
Besides Fong, the special task force comprises Datuk Seri Panglima Hashim Paijan, Datuk Dr Junaidah Kamaruddin, Datuk Jagjit Singh Bant Singh, Datuk Shaharudin Ali, K. Balaguru, Farah Adura Hamidi and Mohd Najib Surip.
Thomas, who was the Attorney-General from June 2018 to February 2020, had sought a declaration that the report titled ‘Report of the Special Task Force – Investigation into the Allegations in the Book Titled “My Story: Justice In The Wilderness”, was an invalid document and against the law.
In the originating summons, Thomas claimed the publication of the report violated Sections 499 and 500 of the Penal Code and/or Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and sought a declaration that the publication of the report by the government, violated his right to his reputation as protected by Articles 5(1) and 13(1) of the Federal Constitution.
The book written by Thomas which was published in January 2021 courted a lot of controversies, which led to the Cabinet setting up a special task force on Oct 8, 2021, to conduct a study on the revelations contained in the book.
On Oct 13, 2022, the government declassified the special task force’s report, which among other things, recommended that Thomas be investigated for possible offences.
Thomas was represented by counsel Mervyn Lai Wei Shiung and Haikaldin Mahyidin while Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan, Nur Irmawatie Daud and Liew Horng Bin acted for the defendants.