The Malaysian authorities should quash the 18 months jail sentence handed down to Rafizi Ramli, a whistle-blowing member of parliament.
Rafizi Ramli has been convicted under the Official Secrets Act of 1972 for being in possession of and disclosing part of the Auditor General’s report into the 1MDB corruption scandal that is engulfing Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak.
“Rafizi Ramli acted in the public interest by bringing to light information about one of the biggest corruption scandals in Malaysia’s recent history.”
Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.
“Rafizi Ramli acted in the public interest by bringing to light information about one of the biggest corruption scandals in Malaysia’s recent history. The authorities should have published the Auditor General’s report from the beginning, rather than trying to suppress it,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.
“Rafizi Ramli’s sentence should be quashed immediately and he should be protected against any retaliation stemming from the disclosure of information that shows wrongdoing. By invoking the Official Secrets Act, the Malaysian authorities are yet again taking the cover of national security to stop people from raising legitimate questions about the 1MDB funds and obstructing the society from receiving such information.”
Rafizi Ramli is currently on bail pending an appeal to the High Court. If the appeals process is exhausted without the verdict being overturned, he will lose his seat in parliament and be sent to prison solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights.
“If Rafizi Ramli is imprisoned, Amnesty International would consider him a prisoner of conscience.”
“If Rafizi Ramli is imprisoned, Amnesty International would consider him a prisoner of conscience,” said Josef Benedict.
Amnesty International is alarmed by the widespread use of national security legislation and other restrictive laws to choke peaceful dissent in Malaysia.
On 24 March 2016, at a press conference in the lobby of parliament, Rafizi Ramli publicised a page of the Auditor General’s report into the 1MDB corruption scandal.
On 3 April 2016, he was detained for three days before being charged under the Official Secrets Act 1972.
Rafizi Ramli is also charged under section 97(1) of the Banks and Financial Institutions Act at the Shah Alam sessions court for exposing the National Feedlot Corporation Scandal, involving an RM250million (50 million pounds) government loan intended for a cattle breeding project.
He has also been found guilty under section 504 of the Penal Code for ‘Provoking UMNO members’ at the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court and fined RM1,800.
1Malaysia Development Bhd (1 MDB) was established by Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009, as a step towards establishing a financial hub in Kuala Lumpur.
The fund missed payments for some of the US $11bn it owed to banks and other creditors.