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RM3.5mil to hire lawyers: Thomas never explained the need for external appointment

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PETALING JAYA: Tan Sri Tommy Thomas spent around RM3.5 million of government funds to appoint outside lawyers, including his former partner, on behalf of the Attorney General Chamber (AGC), says newly declassified Special Task Force Report on thomas book.

He also claimed that Thomas, who was then the AG, had allegedly sidelined assistant prosecutors who might have worked on those cases.

The report stated that all of the outside counsel Thomas appointed in some cases incurred costs, but ceased acting once he stepped down as AG in February 2020.

The report further stated that although Thomas had the right to hire outside counsel for the AGC, the reason outside counsel was needed was never really answered.

Throughout his tenure, he appointed 23 outside counsel.

“The amount spent on outside counsel during Thomas’ tenure as AG amounted to RM3,534,892.20,” the report says.

All claims were approved by Thomas as Control Officer.

“Although Thomas has complied with government regulations in the appointment of outside counsel, the question of the need to appoint outside counsel has never been answered,” the report states.

One of those cases was the appointment of his former partner in the Goldman Sachs case.

The report stated that Thomas appointed him to the Goldman Sachs case because of his experience, but the brief details surrounding the appointment and pay require investigation.

The Task Force is of the opinion that there appears to be a conflict of interest on Thomas’ part in appointing his former partner to handle assignments from Goldman Sachs.

He then proposed that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission investigate the lawyer’s appointment to determine if there was a conflict of interest.

Another case was the appointment of two external lawyers in the Suria Strategic Energy Resources Sdn Bhd (SSER) case.

The report said that Thomas only mentioned that the appointments of outside counsel in the SSER case were for the following reasons.

One was a specialist in arbitration and international disputes, while the other was a highly experienced and knowledgeable commercial lawyer.

In Malaysia’s legal challenge against the European Union’s discriminatory regulations against Malaysian palm oil, the report alleges that Thomas acted in excess of his authority, overriding decisions made by officials at the Ministry of Primary Industries.

“…Thomas decided to prepare for the EU case differently. With essentially little or no input from the ministry and its statutory bodies,” the report states.

Thomas is alleged to have appointed five lawyers from the Malaysian Bar Association who apparently had no experience dealing with EU law or conducting any legal challenges before the World Trade Organization nor had they been involved in any proceedings. consultation within the EU.

In doing so, he allegedly sacked or sidelined the Brussels law firm appointed by the ministry.

He also defended his appointment of five local lawyers against the ministry’s foreign lawyers, claiming that “one is not convinced with their loyalty to the national cause.”

“All external counsel appointed by Thomas ceased to act for Malaysia once he resigned as AG and the fees incurred to retain them have been a waste of public funds, especially as the work or opinions do not appear to be helpful in the final presentation of the Malaysia’s case before the WTO,” the report states.

When contacted, Thomas declined to comment on the declassified report.


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Azalina vows to address, amend outdated laws to be relevant with current times

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KUALA LUMPUR: As the new Minister for Law and Institutional Reform, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said promises to address laws that are outdated and make necessary changes to make them relevant to current times.

In a statement on Saturday (December 3), Azalina said, among other things, that the reform includes the separation of powers of the Public Ministry and the Public Ministry, to preserve the independence of the discretion of the Public Ministry.

“I will also ensure that outstanding issues, including the citizenship status of children born abroad to Malaysian mothers, make continued progress and, where necessary, reform laws to restore the rights of the vulnerable, marginalized and those who don’t get the same treatment in our nation,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the same statement, Azalina said that there are many challenges ahead for the Unity Government as it navigates the next term, taking into account the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic downturn expected in the coming year. .

“The portfolio that I am leading involves efforts that span the length of government. I look forward to working together with elected representatives from various parties to address the challenges,” he added.

With vast experience as a Cabinet member and having headed various ministries since 2004, Azalina once made history when she became the first woman to be appointed Minister of Youth and Sports in 2004 and the first woman to be appointed Vice President of The House of Representatives. Representatives in 2020.

Azalina was also Minister of Tourism from 2008 to 2009 and Minister in the Department of the Prime Minister (Legal Affairs) from 2015 to 2018. – Bernama


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Bung says Sabah sidelined in Cabinet line-up

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KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (Photo) says he feels Sabah is underrepresented in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s federal cabinet.

Sabah’s deputy chief minister said the two ministerial posts the state received through Pakatan Harapan’s Upko and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) party did not reflect the support given to the unity government by Sabah MPs.

“It seems that Sabah has been left out of the Cabinet formation in the new unity government.

“There is not even one Sabah Barisan representative in the cabinet compared to Sarawak, which has five,” he said in a statement here on Saturday (Dec 3), adding that this was not fair to Sabah.

Sabah chief Barisan Nasional said he respected the Prime Minister’s decision, but said Sabah needed to be reflected equally in the Cabinet to show that the Federal Government meant business in ensuring that Sabah’s rights and development were in the agenda of the new Federal Government. .

“I’m worried. Does this mean that Sabah will also be left out of the development?” questioned Bung Moktar, who led Sabah Barisan to a seven-seat victory in the just-concluded GE15, the most among parties they contested in the state.

Anwar had announced on Friday (Dec 2) evening that incoming Upko Chairman Datuk Ewon Benedick and GRS Papar MP Datuk Armizan Ali have been appointed to their cabinet as Minister for Business Development and Cooperatives, as well as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak). Affairs) respectively.

Of the seats in Sabah, GRS won six, Pakatan (five), Warisan (three), Independents (two), and one seat for Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat and Perikatan Nasional.

Bung Moktar congratulated the two new Sabahan ministers, but stressed that it was important that Sabah receive portfolios that would benefit the state.

“The people chosen for the job must be well-versed in the issues of Sabah’s rights and the needs of the state.

“Sabah needs a strong voice in Cabinet to make sure that development funds for our schools, roads and electricity, among others, are dealt with quickly without further delay,” he said.

Bung Moktar said he hoped all the new ministers would prioritize Sabah affairs so that the state does not remain in the background.

“We don’t want Sabah to be left out again in terms of development, especially infrastructure, which is vital for the people.

“For example, the Pan Borneo highway project must continue and be accelerated. We do not want the project to be discontinued again as it happened when Pakatan became the government in 2018,” he said.


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More than 30 locations nationwide at risk of landslides

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PETALING JAYA: More than 30 locations across the country have been identified as landslide hotspots and with the current continued rain, the potential for landslides is even greater.

Malaysia’s Department of Minerals and Geosciences said continuous rainfall during the northeast monsoon, which is expected to last until March next year, is the main reason why areas with slopes greater than 25° are at risk of erosion. .

“This current monsoon phenomenon may result in the potential for landslides being higher, especially in settlement areas with slopes greater than 25°, hillside roads and river basin areas in some ecological parks,” it said in a statement.

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The department added that the hotspots are in Pahang (Cameron Highlands, Fraser’s Hill), Selangor (Bukit Antarabangsa-Hulu Langat, Kuala Kubu Bharu), Kedah (Gunung Jerai, Baling), Penang (Tanjung Bungah, Paya Terubong), Negri Sembilan ( Genting Peras, Jalan Seremban-Simpang Pertang), Perak (Ipoh, Kledang), Terengganu (Aring-Kuala Berang-Kenyir), Kelantan (Lojing – Gua Musang), Johor (Gunung Pulai), Sarawak (Miri, Kapit, Bau) and Sabah (Kota Kinabalu, Kundasang, Sandakan), among others.

The areas are under constant monitoring by the department and relevant agencies, he said.

The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and its agencies, which include the department, have also been evaluating, monitoring and implementing landslide risk reduction programs throughout the country.

“A total of 25 ecological parks, which are tourist attractions, have been identified as potentially threatening with the occurrence of mapped debris flows.

“These areas have been installed with an early warning system, while community-based disaster risk management has been established involving local residents and district-level agencies,” the department said.

Staff from the Malaysia Institute of Public Works help rehabilitate landslides at Taman Mega Jaya in Ampang, including shoring up areas with concrete.  — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The StarStaff from the Malaysia Institute of Public Works help rehabilitate landslides at Taman Mega Jaya in Ampang, including shoring up areas with concrete. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

Under the program, local residents receive training to improve their level of preparedness against landslides.

The department said it is also working with local authorities to map the hazards and risks of the slopes.

“The department is committed to providing early information related to geological landslide disasters, including working hand in hand with other technical agencies under the National Disaster Management Agency to develop a network of early warning systems, including the public awareness to reduce the risk of loss of life and property damage,” he added.

Last month, the Meteorological Department said that the northeast monsoon phase will persist until March next year.


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