In a 2009 speech when Malaysia’s new Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas spoke about the jurisdictions of places such as India, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
He said: “The one place that Malaysia’s constitutional lawyers never look to is to Singapore. Singapore does not have a constitution. It does not have a constitutional court. It does not have constitutional judges. It does not have lawyers. So I cannot make this speech in Singapore. So whenever we criticize Malaysia, we must remember that it is a 100 times better than kiasu-land.”
In response, Lawyer and Human Rights Activist M. Ravi disagreed. He said,
“I agree with everything said by the new AG of Malaysia (below) but will not agree that we don’t have constitutional lawyers in Singapore. I had argued several landmark constitutional cases before our courts”
He also added, “He (Thomas) also said Malaysian lawyers don’t use Singapore cases for constitutional law matters. I again disagree. The case of Yong Vui Kong v AG(2011) which I argued was heavily cited last year by Anwar’s lawyers in the Malaysian High Court in relation to his pardon and the question of whether a pardon process is judicially reviewable. I knew about this when Anwar’s legal team reached out to me to seek some clarifications regarding the Singapore case”.
In AG Thomas’ 2009 speech, he also spoke about the jurisdictions of India, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – how their constitutions and the constitutional courts have developed over the years.
AG Tommy Thomas is known for representing clients under a lot of media-scrutiny, such as Penang government to restore local government elections, pro-bono defence for Bersih 2.0 in a lawsuit by Federal Government on claims for property damage during 2012 Bersih rally.
AG Tommy’s speech was posted on Facebook by Singaporean Filmmaker Martyn See who said, “Will Singapore’s AG Lucien Wong, a former personal lawyer to Lee Hsien Loong, prosecute Tommy Thomas for scandalising our judiciary?”
Within the 10 hours since it was posted, See’s post got over 23,000 views, 817 shares and more than 180 reactions.
Whether Singapore’s AG responds or not remains to be seen.