Anwar Ibrahim seems to be the only opposition politician to take a stand against Tommy Thomas for his attacks against Malays and the civil servants.
In his defence of the civil servants, Anwar says the ex-Attorney General Thomas’ swipe at civil service is akin to racial stereotyping.
“At one fell swoop, Thomas has not only insulted the AG’s Chambers but publicly disparaged the entire civil service of the nation,” Anwar says.
“The notion that civil servants serve just to earn fixed salaries with the only ambition to collect their pensions when they retire is the sort of resentment founded in anger and slight, not rational criticism.
“Such a gross generalisation is unbecoming,” he adds.
Anwar criticised Thomas for what he says are flawed and “fatal” conclusions about several issues in a memoir that has become the subject of dozens of investigations.
Anwar notes that Thomas cast “unkind remarks” about the Attorney General’s Chambers that implied its mostly Malay staff as being lazy.
Thomas in his memoirs My Story: Justice in the Wilderness writes, “public sector lawyers had public service attitudes (and) were civil servants, earning a fixed monthly income.”
To that Anwar says Thomas is wrong in because his statement is suggesting the Civil Servants lacked initiative and are keen only on “awaiting pension upon retirement”.
Anwar also says Thomas was ill-informed about the problems regarding racism, citing a chapter the former AG had dedicated on the issue in his memoir.
In his book, Thomas seems inclined to blame racism solely on Malay political leaders. According to Anwar, this was shallow and akin to saying racism only exists among one community, a malady Anwar felt was also inherent in other races.
Racism was a systemic, cultural, and political problem that pervades all races, and that Thomas being a lawyer who professed to side justice should have been aware of, says Anwar.
“Appropriate enough of an issue, but unfortunately, and to my great disappointment, this comes off as somewhat one-sided with the preponderance of the blame being levelled on Malay leaders, giving the impression that racism is a malady afflicting only the Malay community,” Anwar says on Facebook.
“Not one word is said about the racism that is inherent among the other communities as well, and this is yet another fatal misstep,” he adds.
“I am sure Thomas knows that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. But failing to recognise that racism in Malaysia is a systemic cultural and political problem, which has been exacerbated by government policies, his words offer little value to the discussion we all need to have.”
But Anwar also defended Thomas’ right to express his views and said that he found the call to ban the latter’s book disturbing.
“As much as I subscribe to the belief that I may exercise my right to criticise Thomas’s book, I vehemently oppose any move to ban it,” Anwar wrote.
“I believe that subject to the laws of slander and libel, criminal defamation, Thomas should be allowed to exercise his constitutional freedom of expression to foster the public contestation of ideas.”