Call to repeal OSA is loud

Source: The Star Online

PETALING JAYA: Civil societies want the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA) repealed to encourage transparency in the new government.

This, says the Governance, Inte­grity, Accountability and Transpa­rency (GIAT), a coalition of seven civil society organisations, should be part of the institutional reform that should be carried out by the Government to ensure transparency in the country.

GIAT also wants the Government to table a Freedom of Information Bill as soon as possible, to show its commitment to transparency in line with the spirit of the “New Malaysia”. Read more

Sabah church seeks basis for ‘Allah’ ban, but govt says it’s a ‘secret’

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — A Sabah church today asked the courts to order the government to disclose documents showing why it had banned non-Muslims from using the Arabic word “Allah”, but the government objected by saying such documents were classified as “official secrets”.

Lim Heng Seng, the lead counsel for the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) Sabah church, argued that it was necessary for the government to reveal information relating to its original ban in 1986 on the word “Allah” in non-Muslim publications.

Noting that the Home Ministry had cited the 1986 government circular after its 2007 seizure of SIB Sabah’s Christian education, Lim said this initial ban was the “root” behind recurring problems faced by local Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians who have been using the word “Allah” for hundreds of years.

He described the situation as akin to the “Sword of Damocles” hanging over Malaysian churches’ head, where the 31-year-old ban was not always enforced but would from time to time be used by “little Napoleons” for seizures that would later be reversed after brought to the attention of senior officials like the prime minister or ministers. Read more

Rafizi’s OSA conviction, a ‘step backward’ says C4

Source FMT News 

PETALING JAYA: The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) today criticised the High Court’s decision to dismiss Rafizi Ramli’s appeal against his conviction under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel said the decision was a “step backward” which seriously undermined the importance of safeguarding the right to freedom of information.

In a statement, she added that the OSA had been “arbitrarily” used to mask corrupt practices and obstruct the public from accessing information related to matters of public interest.

“C4 emphasises that using the OSA to criminalise whistleblowers who expose corruption and mismanagement to the public promotes an environment that breeds corruption primarily because secrecy allows for cases to be squashed without an explanation.

“Over the 45 years the OSA has been in force, we have witnessed how the law has been used as an effective means of ensuring that information on government is kept secret,” she said.

Last November, Rafizi was sentenced to a total of 36 months in jail over two charges of possessing page 98 of the 1MDB audit report and for revealing the contents of the report at the press conference. Read more

Rafizi fails to set aside OSA conviction over 1MDB audit expose

Source: FMT News

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today dismissed PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli’s appeal to set aside his conviction under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

Justice Azman Abdullah, in a brief oral judgment, ruled in favour of the conviction by the Sessions Court last November, for leaking the 1MDB report at a press conference at the Parliament building in March last year.

However, Justice Azman allowed Rafizi’s appeal against his conviction on the charge of possessing page 98 of the audit report, which had been classified under the OSA by the government.

He also granted the Pandan MP’s application for a stay of execution on the 18-month jail sentence, pending his final appeal.

On Nov 14, the Sessions Court sentenced Rafizi Ramli to a total 36 months in jail over the two charges of possessing page 98 of the 1MDB audit report and for revealing the contents of the report at the press conference.

The court ordered him to serve the two 18-month sentences concurrently. Read more

OSA can only be repealed if there’s a change in govt, forum told

Source: The Malaysian Insight

THE opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition will repeal the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and replace it with and a new Freedom of Information Act if it comes into power at the next elections, a forum was told last night.

DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang, one of the panellists, said he is committed to work towards the repeal of the OSA and fight for its inclusion in the PH manifesto.

“I think in the next general election, for PH to fight for the freedom of information, PH will discuss in the central committee (about abolishing OSA) and that would be my commitment.

“There should be a law reform agenda… DAP will raise this up… to make it in the PH manifesto.

“The only real way is to change the government. There is no way the present government can make a real change, it must be a PH manifesto to replace the OSA with (the) Freedom of Information (FOI) Act,  ” Lim said at the “OSA: Time to Renew or Repeal?” forum. Read more

Judicial review application hearing to challenge A-G’s 1MDB report official secret classification

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 ― The High Court here today set Aug 1 to hear the application for a judicial review filed by Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and Muhammad Zahid Md Arip to challenge the decision to classify the Auditor-General’s report on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) as official secret.

Judge Datuk Wira Kamaludin Md Said set the date in chambers in the presence of lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla representing Muhammad Zahid and lawyer N. Ganeson representing Mohamed Azmin.

Also present were senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan representing the respondents, namely Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and the Malaysian Government.

Mohamed Azmin and Muhammad Zahid filed the application separately on Aug 15 and 5 last year.

In his application, Mohamed Azmin is seeking for a declaration that Najib had acted in conflict of interest, in issuing a certificate under Section 2B of the Official Secrets Act 1972, to Ambrin, directing him to classify his report on 1MDB as an “official secret”.

Azmin is also seeking for another declaration that the classification by Ambrin on the 1MDB report as “official secret” under the OSA was unlawful and “ultra vires” (beyond the power) of the Federal Constitution, the OSA and the Audit Act 1957.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Zahid, who is former spiritual leader of Pertubuhan Tolak Individu Bernama Anwar Ibrahim (TIBAI) filed the legal bid against the same respondents, seeking an order to make the 1MDB final report publicly accessible.

On Jan 11, the High Court granted both of them leave to proceed with their judicial review seeking to declassify the audit report on 1MDB. ― Bernama

‘Admin WhatsApp’ boleh dipenjara

Source: BH Online

KUALA LUMPUR: Admin (pentadbir) kumpulan WhatsApp berdepan tindakan undang-undang sekiranya gagal membendung penyebaran maklumat palsu dalam kalangan ahli sehingga menggugat keselamatan negara.

Timbalan Menteri Komunikasi dan Multimedia, Datuk Jailani Johari, berkata tindakan undang-undang sedia ada di bawah Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998 boleh dipertimbangkan untuk mengambil tindakan terhadap pentadbir terbabit.

Di bawah akta itu, pelbagai kesalahan boleh dikenakan tindakan seperti menyebarkan berita palsu, fitnah, menghasut, penipuan dan pendedahan komunikasi yang dilarang iaitu mendedahkan maklumat di bawah Akta Rahsia Rasmi (OSA).   Read more

Recognise our efforts by letting us report freely, journalists tell minister

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 10 — Media practitioners welcomed today a federal minister’s proposal for a National Journalists’ Day to celebrate their profession, but said it should not deviate from the fundamental constraints they face in carrying out their job daily.

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) said that it “cautiously welcomed” the idea mooted by Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak yesterday.

“While recognition for the work that journalists do and the role of the Fourth Estate is welcomed, IoJ stresses that such celebrations should not distract from fundamental issues concerning media freedom,” it said in a statement.

It pointed out that Malaysia still ranks only 146th in the World Press Freedom Index, and that journalists still face threats of criminal action by authorities, including the use of Sedition Act, in their line of work. Read more

18-month jail for Rafizi for leaking 1MDB secrets

Source: FMT News

Court does not accept the Pandan MP's claim on why he could not file defence to charges under the Official Secrets Act (OSA). Pic from FMT News.

Court does not accept the Pandan MP’s claim on why he could not file defence to charges under the Official Secrets Act (OSA). Pic from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sessions Court today sentenced PKR’s Rafizi Ramli to 18 months’ jail over two charges of leaking a classified 1MDB audit report.

Justice Zulqarnian Hassan said Rafizi would serve concurrently the 18 months’ prison sentence for each of the offences.

In an immediate reaction, the PKR secretary-general, who risks losing his status as the Pandan MP following the decision, said he would file an appeal.

Earlier, Zulqarnian said Rafizi had failed to raise reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s case. Read more

Zahid: Police looking into ex-ministers’ Budget 2017 debate statements

Source: The Star

If the speeches are deemed to breach the OSA, the investigation will be handed to Attorney General's Chambers.

If the speeches are deemed to breach the OSA, the investigation will be handed to Attorney General’s Chambers.

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the police are looking into the case involving statements made by three former ministers when debating Budget 2017 in Parliament.

He said if the speeches are deemed to have breached the Official Secrets Act (OSA), then the police will be handing over the investigation papers to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for further action.

“It’s too early for me to give any findings from the investigation papers as the police report has already been made and the Inspector-General of Police has issued a statement.

“So, we leave this matter to the police and the A-G for the next course of action,” he said after the launch of a biography of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Being Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, by Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak at the Sime Darby Convention Centre here yesterday.

Dr Ahmad Zahid was referring to the remarks made by former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, former Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal and former Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah when debating the 2017 Supply Bill at the Dewan Rakyat last week. Read more