LFL wants probe on Rafizi for ‘whistleblowing’ dropped

No moral government in this day and age would hide behind the pretext of “official secrets” when it comes to abuse of power and corruption.

PRESS STATEMENT While the world was moving towards more openness, transparency and accountability in the conduct of government affairs, it’s quite “deplorable” how the authorities were so quick to punish whistleblowers like Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli. At the same time, the authorities concerned are taking little or no action against the massive corruption and abuse of power exposed by the 1MDB scandal.

Whistleblowing is not a crime to be prosecuted.

LFL calls upon the authorities to drop all investigations against Rafizi. Whatever he has exposed was clearly a matter of public interest.

No harm or damage has been caused by his revelation.

We are shocked and appalled at Rafizi’s arrest outside Parliament gates on Tuesday for allegedly breaching the Official Secrets Act 1972 when he purportedly revealed excerpts from the Auditor General’s Report on the misuse of the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) for 1MDB which he claimed delayed gratuity payments to army veterans.

We are further distressed by the unnecessary and excessive three-day remand order granted on Wednesday by the Magistrate for the police to complete investigations.

We accept that certain information should be protected as “official secrets”, for example anything relating to genuine issues on national defence and security. However, when it comes to corruption or abuse of power, no moral government in this day and age would hide behind the pretext of “official secrets”.

Questions must be asked on why the Auditor General’s Report on 1MDB was suddenly classified as an “official secret”. It’s normally tabled annually in Parliament and made available to the public.

The balancing of the right of the public to receive information in areas of important public debate, and the interests of the state in withholding it must necessarily involve the type of information. It cannot be a blanket and conclusive ban the moment the authorities concerned certify the information as an “official secret” as was currently the case under the OSA.”

We call upon the authorities to stop misusing the OSA to cover up allegations of corruption and abuse of power and to limit its use to only genuine matters of national defence and security. By limiting its use to only genuine “official secrets”, this would remove a dangerous chill on free speech and result in a more transparent and accountable society which is essential to our democracy.

 

Eric Paulsen

Executive Director

Lawyers for Liberty

 

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