Najib’s Outrage On Tommy Thomas Letter To Sulu Heirs Must Be Viewed Seriously

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Tommy Thomas (right) should not question Najib Razak’s universal popularity despite conviction in court. Photo credit; MYKMU.net

No court in the world would go against former Attorney General (Thomas) if he chose ‘discreet silence’.

It’s not entirely clear what made then Attorney General Tommy Thomas write a long letter, deemed controversial in more ways than one, to a lawyer representing the Sulu heirs linked with a defunct sultanate in the southern Philippines.

Thomas even reported his “mistake” theory from the contents of the letter in the Memoirs “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness”. See here.

No court in the world would go against a former Attorney General if he chose ‘discreet silence’. This isn’t about strategy. It’s not rocket science. It’s only kindergarten kids who will tell all.

In any case, what has happened has happened. It’s water under the bridge. It remains to be seen whether there will be any court in the world which will assist the Sulu heirs to enforce a purported RM63b Award against Malaysian government assets in the jurisdiction.

It’s at this point in time that Malaysia would have to strike.

Until then, it’s a waiting game. It’s about crossing the bridge when we come to it. I won’t say what the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) has to do. They probably know better what should be done. They have the benefit of collective wisdom, built up over more than half a century, with them. I will not risk preaching to the converted.

Whatever the AGC does, it should not do a Tommy Thomas. The Sulu heirs probably considers him as “God’s gift to them”. As reported by Malaysiakini, the award was issued in an arbitration court in Paris, France by Spanish arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa.

Malaysians In Cahoots

There’s no reason to self-plagiarise what I have covered in recent days on the RM63b Sulu Award. Read here.

Besides, we can’t reveal all our cards to the other side, the “enemy of the state”. Also, in adding insult to injury, there are allegedly Malaysians in cahoots with the Sulu heirs no doubt for a share of the RM63b. These daydreamers may have got off the boat yesterday. It’s an open secret in Sabah. The AG can, in fact, and should probably bring treason charges against them or explore other ways to freeze, seize and forfeit their assets.

Intricate Details

The PTI (pendatang tanpa izin or illegal immigrants) in Sabah are a threat to Malaysia’s national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity. According to the 2010 National Census, there were one million PTI in Sabah. 600k had unverified documents and 400k were undocumented. Another 700k foreigners held work permits. We don’t know the PTI figures in the 2020 National Census. It was delayed by the pandemic.

Sabah plagued by illegal immigrants from the Philippines. – Google pic.

Thomas spelled out in intricate details, albeit including known facts, in his letter to the Sulu heirs. See here.

Former prime minister Najib Razak, in taking issue with the Thomas letter, has been more than upset. He has raised several questions. See here.

Najib’s statement on Tommy Thomas letter to the Sulu heirs provide ‘food for thought’. There’s no risk of Pedra Branca — Pulau Batu Putih — repeating itself in Sabah. In Pulau Batu Putih, sovereignty was lost through “inaction in law”. In Sabah, the Philippines never had sovereignty over the eastern seaboard and hinterland that the defunct Sulu sultanate claims. In fact, the Philippines as far as Manila had once been under Brunei Rule.

It remains a matter of deep regret that the then AG pontificated sanctimoniously in the long letter to the Sulu heirs. He reportedly broke his own Rules.

He may have wanted to pre-empt moves by the Sulu heirs to seek Arbitration on an alleged breach of the 1878 Agreement and a 1939 High Court of Borneo Ruling on the annual purse, cession monies being the misnomer, previously collected by the Sulu sultan.

Unfounded Fears Of Thomas

The then AG’s fears were unfounded.

Obviously, he never expected the letter to be used against him. If so, he let his guard down, indeed it was recklessness.

This may be the first time that Thomas has put the proverbial foot in the mouth, for want of a better term, or shot himself in the foot. Generally, thinking along the lines of law, he errs on the side of caution.

Briefly, to digress a little on the man, he advised de facto Law Minister V. K. Liew, not long after GE14 on Thurs 10 May 2018, that the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA’63) must be excluded from proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution. His advice was based on “avoiding complications”. It was brilliant! In short, for strategic reasons, he wanted the Federal government to “sit pretty” on MA’63.

The Thomas letter to the Sulu heirs, based on what’s known of the man, was totally out of character. This is the man who generally prepares a draft case on half an A4 Page. He advised a surprised lawyer friend, “always put your case down on half an A4 Page, otherwise you don’t have a case.”

Classic Strategy

It was classic strategy among highly skilled lawyers. They identify the jugular vein and go for the kill. It would be all over for the other side before they even realise what hit them.

The jury may no longer be out on whether Thomas should have kept a discreet silence and allowed others in gov’t to settle the outstanding annual purse which had accumulated since 2013.

It was important to pick the fights. There was no reason here to fight. The Sulu heirs are history. Their sultanate has long gone. Thomas was flogging a dead horse. It remains to be seen whether the horse has stood up.

The sultanate itself, being defunct since the last Sultan died without leaving a male heir, no longer presides over the spiritual affairs of the local ummah (faithful) in the Sulu Archipelago, southern Philippines.

It’s in history that the Sulu sultan never presided over the spiritual affairs of the local ummah who paid toll along the main waterways in two regions dubbed collectively since 2013 as the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (EssZone). It was in 2013 that a ragtag bunch, Sulu “rebels”, tried to seize Lahad Datu in southeastern Sabah.

Agong

The Agong presides over the spiritual affairs of the ummah in Sabah.

The Philippines is a Christian republic with steadily dwindling Muslim numbers in the south. The 13 Muslim-majority provinces in the southern Philippines have been reduced to just five provinces granted autonomy in recent years. Muslims have been steadily migrating to the north especially the Greater Manila region.

We know from the 1939 High Court of Borneo Ruling that sovereignty resides with the people of Sabah. It was not property which could be owned by an individual or Family. If the Sulu sultanate ever had sovereignty over parts of Sabah, it may have been lost by the sultanate going defunct and by “inaction in law” as with Pulau Batu Putih. — New Malaysia Herald

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