Detractors of Attorney General Tommy Thomas have initiated a petition urging the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to remove him for a lack of proficiency in the national language.
Started by one Fyizuddin Jaafar on Change.org, the petition seeks the support of 2,500 like-minded people and has received over 3500 signatures so far.
The following is the verbatim reproduction of the petition message.
“AG WITHOUT BAHASA MELAYU QUALIFICATION MUST NOT BE CONSIDER TO BE APPOINTED AS AN AG. THIS IS AN EMBARRASSING TO THE COUNTRY AND MALAYSIAN TOO. THIS ALSO WILL DAMAGE THE BRAVERY OF THE HONOURABLE HIS MAJESTY YDPA. WE SUPPORT YDPA FOR REPLACING AND FIRED THE EMBARRASSING AG OF MALAYSIA. NO MORE JOKES ON THIS SERIUS MATTER PLEASE.”
When leading the prosecution against former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Wednesday, Thomas asked the court for permission to proceed in English instead of the national language.
While BM is constitutionally required for “official functions”, the judiciary often allows dispensation for proceedings to be conducted in English, especially for civil cases where Thomas spent most of his over four decades of private practice. Thomas previously conceded to having a poor command of BM as a result.
Najib’s supporters seized on this by mocking and demanding that Thomas use the national language during a press conference after the former PM was charged on Wednesday, forcing him to temporarily abandon the event.
Attorney General Tommy Thomas should strive for a serviceable command of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language is not difficult to learn, said former minister Tan Sri Rais Yatim.
A known stickler on the use of the national language, he also said that a passing command of BM was needed so Thomas could at least initiate court proceedings in Malay as technically required by law.
“In this, the AG should speak in Bahasa Melayu, it’s not hard, (after all) if he could master English, why can’t he learn Bahasa Melayu?” Rais was quoted as saying by the Malaysiakini news portal.
“(I’m not saying) all courtroom arguments are not allowed to be made in English, but the opening statements and preambles should be in Bahasa Melayu. I regret that this is not being done.”