Hakam: 1MDB audit report already public, just declassify it

Source: Malaysiakini

There is no more reason for the government to keep the 1MDB audit report secret as it has already been leaked and made public by the Sarawak Report, said human rights group Hakam.

The group, headed by former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan, said if the report was erroneous, then auditor-general Ambrin Buang would have said so.

“Once a purported ‘official secret’ is in the public domain, it is no longer a secret and ought to be declassified,” it said in a statement today,

It cited arguments by British appellate court judges in the 1980s, including a judgement by Lord Bridge of Harwich, who said “once information is freely available to the general public, it is nonsensical to talk about preventing its ‘disclosure’.”

The 1MDB audit report is currently classified under the Official Secrets Act. Read more

STATEMENT: Declassify The Auditor General’s Report on 1MDB

pdfSTATEMENT DATED 19 JULY 2016

DECLASSIFY THE AUDITOR GENERAL’S REPORT ON 1MDB

File photo shows a man walking past a 1MDB billboard in Kuala Lumpur. The tabling of the final 1MDB audit report before the PAC has already been delayed twice and has now been classified under the OSA. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

File photo shows a man walking past a 1MDB billboard in Kuala Lumpur. The tabling of the final 1MDB audit report before the PAC had been delayed twice and has now been classified under the OSA. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Details of the 1MDB Auditor General’s report disclosed by Sarawak Report has been met by a wall of silence by the Government save for the usual vitriol hurled at the portal for its disclosure of a classified document.

The directive to the Auditor General to investigate 1MDB came from the Cabinet in March 2015. The report was completed and handed to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on 4 March 2016 at which point it was classified as an official secret. It is unclear exactly who classified it although the Act requires that if it does not fall within the schedule that refers generally to government decisions and issues relating to national security, then it must be so classified by a Minister, the Mentri Besar or Chief Minister or other authorised public officer.  Who therefore classified the report as an official secret?  It must be ensured that no conflict of interest arose in the classification.

The issue now is whether the Auditor General’s report should be declassified under Section 2C of the Official Secrets Act.  There are compelling reasons why it must.

First, this is an audit sought by the Cabinet who was perfectly justified in doing so in view of the fact that public funds were involved.  The Cabinet was therefore acting in the public interest.  However, Cabinet’s task is incomplete if they do not consider the report in full and if they do not publicly disclose its contents.  One does not ask for such an important report to be done by the Auditor General, only to make his findings secret.  In other words, the Auditor General is brought into the picture to examine if there are improprieties relating to public funds.  It is therefore incumbent on the Cabinet to direct the declassification of the Auditor General’s report. Read more

Australian Bar denounces proposed amendments regulating Malaysian Bar

Source: Malay Mail Online

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru previously described the proposed amendments as a ‘severe threat’ to its independence. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru previously described the proposed amendments as a ‘severe threat’ to its independence. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 ― The Australian Bar Association (ABA) urged Putrajaya today to reconsider the proposed changes to Malaysia’s Legal Profession Act 1976 that it said would threaten the Malaysian Bar’s independence.

ABA president Patrick O’Sullivan QC noted that Australia and Malaysia enjoy “good relations” and “shared values” like the acknowledgment that an independent legal profession was crucial for the protection of human rights, the rule of law, good governance and democracy.

“This proposal would effectively not only give the Attorney General the opportunity to receive reports on the deliberations and actions of this independent institution but importantly, it also provides the opportunity to influence those deliberations and actions,” O’Sullivan said in a statement.

“The Malaysian Bar has long been a defender of human rights and the rule of law in Malaysia. It is that very independence which has benefited the people of Malaysia for many years.

“However, under such an arrangement, the Malaysian Bar’s ability to address on controversial issues that are at odds with the government would be compromised. As a consequence, the people of Malaysia would be adversely affected,” he added. Read more