Umno MPs demanded Malaysia’s top judges resign for dancing to ‘Let’s Twist Again’ – and Twitter isn’t having it

In the video, Malaysia’s attorney general Tommy Thomas and chief justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum can be seen dancing on stage, alongside de facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong.
Facebook/Siti Kasim

They twisted again like they did last summer – but Malaysia’s attorney general Tommy Thomas and chief justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum faced heavy criticism for dancing with a minister and prominent activists at a private event in Sabah, after a video of them on stage made the rounds on social media.

The two were attending a private annual gala dinner hosted by the Sabah Law Society (SLS) at a hotel in Kota Kinabalu on Friday (Jan 18) to celebrate the start of a new legal year, The Star reported.

In the video, the pair can be seen dancing on stage – alongside de facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong and prominent lawyers and activists Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and Siti Kasim – to popular 60s rock ‘n roll tune “Let’s Twist Again” by Chubby Checker.

Others in the crowd can also be seen dancing in the foreground.

According to The Star, SLS president Brenndon Soh said the celebration was a “annual social occasion” for the legal community in Sabah and Sarawak, and had been held since 2001.

But Umno Youth chief Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said on Saturday (Jan 19) that the chief justice and attorney general should not have courted controversy by socialising with “politicians and high-profile individuals”.

This would “chip away at the rakyat’s (people’s) trust towards any decision they make in the future,” The Star reported him as saying.

Some netizens agreed that the dance could be seen as unethical.

On Jan 20, Umno vice president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaacob called for Thomas and Malanjum to resign from their posts, as their dancing could have caused the public to form a negative impression of Malaysia’s judiciary, the New Straits Times reported.

Former PM Najib Razak added that in 2016, then-Attorney General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali had also been questioned for dancing alongside former ministers at a Merdeka Day celebration, and suggested that the current government keeping silent was a sign of double standards, Malay Mail reported.

But other netizens stood up for the pair, saying that the event was, after all, a dinner and dance – and social interactions were not unreasonable.

On Jan 20, the Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS) and SLS both issued statements refuting claims that the pair’s dancing amounted to legal misconduct, The Star reported.

According to The Star, AAS president Ranbir Singh Sangha said that the criticisms were an attempt to “misinterpret what was a social and harmonious occasion reflective of (East Malaysian) hospitality and politicise it.”

He added: “Those who criticise may not know about the morals and ethics that are culturally held high in Sabah and Sarawak at such events.”

Sangha said that the AAS would organise a dance competition for next year’s gala dinner, and planned to invite Malanjum and Thomas, as well as lawyers and members of the judiciary.

And at least one person felt the whole thing was Chubby Checker’s fault for writing such a catchy song.

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