Lawyers: Parliamentary immunity extends to OSA offences

Source: FMT News

Police have no grounds to act against Muhyiddin Yassin, Shafie Apdal and Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah for what they said in Parliament. Pic taken from FMT News.

Police have no grounds to act against Muhyiddin Yassin, Shafie Apdal and Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah for what they said in Parliament. Pic taken from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Parliamentary privilege that protects lawmakers from criminal and civil liability for what they say inside the Dewan Rakyat extends to offences under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), said legal experts.

Hence, police may have no grounds to act against former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, former rural and regional development minister Mohd Shafie Apdal, and former second finance minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah.

The three are currently under investigation for allegedly breaking their oath of secrecy and breaching provisions under the OSA, for speaking on issues which they learnt of while in their respective ministerial posts.

“MPs and state assemblymembers are protected under what is known as parliamentary privileges,” civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan told FMT, in reference to Article 63(2) of the Federal Constitution.

“Here, they can raise issues in Parliament and the state legislative assembly without the risk of legal action. Read more

Information freedom in Malaysia: Why we must empower the media and whistleblowers — Anas Alam Faizli

Source: Astro Awani

BY ANAS ALAM FAIZLI

In the current state, can the media in Malaysia be recognised as the fourth estate? Pic taken from Astro Awani

In the current state, can the media in Malaysia be recognised as the fourth estate? Pic taken from Astro Awani

Back in 2009, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak launched the New Economic Model (NEM), intended to spur the shift of a Government-led economy to the private sector.

He proclaimed that “the era where the Government knows best is over.”Subsequently, in a 2014 interview at UMNO’s 68th anniversary, he reiterated, “And, with all sense of humility, we consider ourselves not as know-alls. I have said that the era of the Government knows best is over.”

What the Prime Minister said is perfectly accurate and must be applauded.

While the context might have been with regards to giving the lead to the private sector or receiving criticism from the general public, his statement will be meaningful only if public participation is included in the Government’s operations and policies.

This can only be achieved if the public is given access to government documents; in order to pave the way or provide constructive criticism.

There are two ways to do this effectively; periodical release of data for the general public to consume, analyse, and scrutinise and secondly, the granting of rights for the public to request government documents and information. Read more

Hearing for Azmin’s bid to declassify 1MDB audit report

Source: NST Online

File photo shows a man walking past a 1MDB billboard in Kuala Lumpur. The U.S. Department of Justice filed lawsuits on Wednesday seeking to seize dozens of properties tied to Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), saying that over $3.5 billion was misappropriated from the institution. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

File photo shows a man walking past a 1MDB billboard in Kuala Lumpur. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today set Oct 26 to hear Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Azmin Ali’s leave application to proceed with his legal bid to declassify the Auditor General’s (AG) final report on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), currently placed under the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA).

Counsel Michelle Kummar confirmed that deputy registrar Norazlin Othman decided on the hearing date during case management in her chambers this morning.

“The leave application will be heard before judge Datuk Hanipah Farikullah,” said Michelle.

She said copies of the legal action would later be served on the three respondents, namely; Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Auditor General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and the Malaysian government.

Through the judicial review application filed on Aug 15, Azmin had sought a court declaration that there was a conflict of interest on Najib’s part, due to the PM’s role as 1MDB adviser, when he directed Ambrin to classify the report under the OSA.

Azmin, who is also PKR deputy president and Gombak MP, claimed the matter arose because Najib was purportedly linked to the 1MDB issue and it became his (Azmin’s) responsibility as a member of parliament to “protect the taxpayers and the citizens of Malaysia”.

He is seeking a court declaration that the OSA classification on the report was unlawful and violated the Federal Constitution, and an order to compel the three respondents to declassify the 1MDB final report and release it to the public.

On Nov 18, Hanipah is also set to hear a similar leave application by former ‘Tolak Individu Bernama Anwar Ibrahim’ (a former non-governmental organisation) spiritual leader Muhammad Zahid Md Arip to mount a legal bid to make the 1MDB final report publicly accessible.

Malaysia’s Growing Crackdown on Dissent

Source: The Diplomat

A new report sheds light on a disturbing trend.

Prosecutors in the United States have filed civil lawsuits in July 2016 alleging that more than $3.5 billion was defrauded from 1MDB. Pic taken from FMT News.

Prosecutors in the United States had filed civil lawsuits in July 2016 alleging that more than $3.5 billion was defrauded from 1MDB. Pic taken from FMT News.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his government have come under fire for the jailing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and a crackdown on dissent, particularly the pro-democracy movement Bersih.

But a 40-page report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) found the Malaysian government has spread prosecutions of peaceful speech over the last 12-months beyond activists and politicians to ordinary citizens on social media.

“Criminalizing peaceful speech appears part of the Malaysian government’s larger effort to tighten the noose on anyone expressing political discontent,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“The authorities should cease prosecuting people for criticism or perceived ‘insults,’ and the government should urgently revise its laws to meet international free expression standards.”

The report, Deepening the Culture of Fear: The Criminalization of Peaceful Expression in Malaysia, documents the government’s use of broad, vaguely worded laws to criminalize peaceful speech and assembly.

It said the government had sought to punish individuals who criticized Najib’s administration, particularly in regards to a massive corruption scandal involving the government-owned 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Read more

Oct 26 court date to hear Azmin’s bid to declassify 1MDB audit report

Source: NST Online

File photo shows a man walking past a 1MDB billboard in Kuala Lumpur. The U.S. Department of Justice filed lawsuits on Wednesday seeking to seize dozens of properties tied to Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), saying that over $3.5 billion was misappropriated from the institution. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

File photo shows a man walking past a 1MDB billboard in Kuala Lumpur. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today set Oct 26 to hear Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Azmin Ali’s leave application to proceed with his legal bid to declassify the Auditor General’s (AG) final report on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), currently placed under the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA).

Counsel Michelle Kummar confirmed that deputy registrar Norazlin Othman decided on the hearing date during case management in her chambers this morning.

“The leave application will be heard before judge Datuk Hanipah Farikullah,” said Michelle.

She said copies of the legal action would later be served on the three respondents, namely; Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Auditor General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and the Malaysian government.

Through the judicial review application filed on Aug 15, Azmin had sought a court declaration that there was a conflict of interest on Najib’s part, due to the PM’s role as 1MDB adviser, when he directed Ambrin to classify the report under the OSA. Read more

Court orders Rafizi to enter defence over OSA leak

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 1 — PKR’s Rafizi Ramli has been ordered to enter his defence for unauthorised possession and exposing confidential 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) documents.

Sessions court judge Zulqarnain Hassan said that based the evidence presented so far, including the publishing of the document page on Rafizi’s website, Facebook page and the fact that he had the document page on his mobile phone, and that this was sufficient in establishing a prima facie case.

“In my opinion, the prosecution has presented a prima facie case,” the judge told the court.

“Among the reasons is that the accused, Yang Berhormat Rafizi has been proven to be in possession and had exposed page 98 of the report,” he added.

September 27 has been set for the continuation of the trial. Read more

Businessman goes to court to unseal 1MDB audit report

Source: The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: In a test case, a businessman is seeking to declassify the final audit report on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) which is under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

He wants the High Court to strike out the decisions made by the Government and two others to classify the report as secret under the Act, and a declaration that the decisions were unconstitutional.

Muhammad Zahid Md Arip, 50, filed an application at the High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) for leave to initiate judicial review proceedings.

In his application, he named Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the Auditor-General and the Government as respondents.

Speaking to reporters, Muhammad Zahid, who claimed that he is still an Umno member and Perkasa supreme council member, said he filed the application as a Malaysian who has constitutional rights to do so and wants “to end all the unhealthy speculation” against the Government and prime minister over the 1MDB issue.

Read more

Time to replace Official Secrets Act — Syahredzan Johan

Source: The Star Online

BY SHAHREDZAN JOHAN

A few days ago, the Sarawak Report published an article claiming to be in possession of a leaked Auditor General’s (AG) report on the troubled state-owned company, 1MDB.

The AG’s report has been classified under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), the Act governing official secrets and information in this country.

In response to the alleged leak, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak called for a police investigation to determine how news portal Sarawak Report obtained the document.

He said the investigation had to be undertaken urgently and expeditiously to prevent further leakages of official secrets documents which ‘may put the country’s security in jeopardy.’

Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police will investigate Sarawak Report under the OSA if it is found to have published classified contents.

If indeed Sarawak Report has published a document classified under the OSA, the people behind the blog would certainly have committed several offences under the OSA. Read more

Citing secrecy law, Speaker says no debate on PAC’s 1MDB report

Source: The Malay Mail Online

dewan_rakyat_signpost_2015_-_parliament_reportKUALA LUMPUR, April 7 — Tan Sri Pandikar Mulia Amin has prohibited the Dewan Rakyat from debating the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) report on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), noting that its contents include documents classified as official secret.

The decision by the Speaker contradicts PAC chairman Datuk Hasan Arifin’s statement last month that the federal audit on 1MDB — the “secret” document that Pandikar was referring to — would no longer be an official secret once the panel’s report is tabled in the House.

Pandikar, however, insisted that debates can only proceed when the authorities declassify the National Audit Department’s report on the firm.

“I know it has been tabled but as some of the contents are under the Officials Secrets Act (OSA) the Dewan Rakyat cannot discuss it.

“We can debate the matter should the government decide to declassify the (A-G) report,” he told the House.

MORE TO COME

 

Rafizi remanded for three days after OSA arrest

Source: The Malay Mail Online

PUTRAJAYA, April 6 ― The Magistrate Court here granted today the police’s request to remand Rafizi Ramli for three days after the PKR lawmaker was arrested under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972.

Rafizi’s remand will expire on Friday, after which the police can seek further extension of remand or release him on bail.

He will be held at the Jinjang police detention centre.

The Pandan MP was arrested outside the Parliament compound yesterday after he previously disclosed what he claimed to be an excerpt from the Auditor-General’s report on state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), which is classified under the law guarding state secrets. Read more