Archive for category Corruption

Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal – Nothing to see here

Economist
Nov 19th 2016

Billions are stolen; only a whistle-blower goes to jail

IT IS more than two years since Malaysians began asking awkward questions about 1MDB, a state-owned investment firm from which billions of dollars are missing. But Malaysia has yet to prosecute anyone in connection with the scandal, perhaps the gravest in its history. Instead, on November 14th a local court handed a prison sentence to Rafizi Ramli, an outspoken opposition politician who has done much to educate the public about the affair. If Mr Rafizi’s appeal is rejected he will spend 18 months in jail.

Mr Rafizi’s offence was to leak details from a report into 1MDB’s dealings which had been produced by Malaysia’s auditor-general, but which the government had declared classified. Mr Rafizi had publicised a brief passage from the report to support speculation that the state firm’s massive losses could have delayed certain payments to Malaysian veterans (the organisations involved reject this claim). The government had initially promised that the auditor-general’s report would be released to the public in full, as is the convention. Now it is using the Official Secrets Act to silence those who refer to it.

Mr Rafizi’s conviction may prevent him from defending his parliamentary seat at the next general election. It adds to a string of legal battles hampering the opposition, which is readying for polls that may be called next year. Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition leader, has been imprisoned since 2015 on flimsy sodomy charges. A corruption case is presently being pressed against Lim Guan Eng, the chief minister of Penang (an opposition stronghold). Read the rest of this entry »

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Who Is the Woman at the Heart of Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Protests?

Yenni Kwok
TIME
23rd Nov. 2016

On Wednesday morning, hundreds of women in yellow T-shirts marched to the parliamentary building in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, demanding the release of activist Maria Chin Abdullah, who was arrested last Friday. They carried banners and placards that said: “Women 4 Maria” and “Free Maria.”

The march marks the fifth day since Chin, chairperson of Bersih 2.0, a pro-democracy and anticorruption coalition group, was arrested last Friday, on the eve of a massive Bersih protest in the Malaysian capital.

Along with Chin, Malaysian authorities also nabbed her Bersih colleague Mandeep Karpal Singh and at least 12 other activists. All have been released, except Chin, the only one detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, or SOSMA, an antiterrorism law that allows detention for up to 28 days without trial. The 60-year-old activist — who suffers from hypertension, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis — is reportedly being held in solitary confinement in a cell without windows and with lights kept on around the clock.

“This amounts to torture,” says a statement from the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality, which organized the women’s march Wednesday.
Rights activists say Chin’s detention is unprecedented. “It’s the first time that a woman human-rights defender has been detained under SOSMA,” Lee Wei San, program coordinator at the All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), tells TIME. Read the rest of this entry »

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Anti-graft crusader Clare Rewcastle-Brown draws Malaysia arrest threats

SIMONE FOX KOOB
The Australian
November 21, 2016

Until late last week, British journalist Clare Rewcastle-Brown was looking forward to visiting Singapore and Sydney to march with thousands of people protesting over the Malaysian government’s 1MDB corruption scandal that she has been probing for years.

That was before an alarming discussion with her lawyers ­swiftly ended the trip.

Rewcastle-Brown was warned last week in no uncertain terms: the threat of arrest was far too high, due in part to the latest ­attempt by the Malaysian government to silence the investigative journalist.

“The threat of arrest has ­become quite real,” the veteran journalist told The Australian from her home in London.

“The case about 1MDB and (Singapore’s) BSI bank has been a major case in Singapore. So they have special extradition arrangements with Malaysia, and I was told that Malaysia had been putting enormous pressure to try one way or another to get their hands on me. The lawyers told me it just wasn’t worth the risk,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call for immediate release of Bersih leaders Maria Chin, Hishamuddin Rais, four Pakatan Harapan MPs/SA Anthony Loke, Zuraida, Tian Chua and Howard Lee and others arrested in government’s Bersih 5 crackdown

Deepavali is the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and hope over despair.

Because of man’s imperfections and weaknesses, this will be an eternal struggle.

The successful Bersih 5 rally in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, where Malaysians regardless of race, religion, region, gender, age or politics came out as one people for democracy symbolized the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and hope over despair – which was all the more remarkable as it was achieved against the backdrop of great odds and obstacles caused by a six-week high-powered UMNO-sponsored Red Shirt campaign of racial provocations, threats, hatred and unashamed cyber-bullying to frustrate and thwart the Bersih 5 rally.

The Bersih 5 rally was a clarion declaration by Malaysians for Malaysia to become a democracy and not a kleptocrary.

It was history-making as it was the first gathering of Malaysians since the US Department of Justice (DOJ) kleptocratic action in July against multi-billion dollar 1MDB embezzlement and money-laundering to defend the honour and good name of Malaysia in national and international society from the infamy and ignominy of being regarded world-wide as a “global kleptocracy”!

But the darkness has not been completed dispelled in Malaysia, even gaining ascendance in some new areas – as witnessed by the government’s undemocratic Bersih 5 crackdown with the indiscriminate arrest of Bersih 5 activists, Pakatan Harapan elected representatives and NGO activists. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib is the real loser in the successful Bersih 5 rally yesterday

There are those who say that that the greatest loser in the Bersih 5 rally yesterday were the Red Shirts, whose leader pledged a turn-out of over 300,000 people but could muster a turnout of only one per cent of some 3,000 to 4,000 people.

An inquiry should be conducted whether tens of millions of ringgit had been committed for a turn-out of 300,000 Red Shirts in Kuala Lumpur at Bersih 5 rally yesterday, and what happened to the mega sum of monies after such a dismal turnout of Red Shirts people, who clearly were quite ashamed of their actions which caused them to hide their faces.

But the real loser in yesterday’s successful Bersih 5 rally are not the Red Shirts, but the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself, without whom there would not be the Red Shirt phenomenon in the first place.

It is most remarkable that after a successful Bersih 5 rally, by whatever reckoning, the Prime Minister, far away in Lima, Peru, could say that Malaysians have become fed up with the Bersih electoral reform group or feel that its rallies do not bring any benefit to the country.

This is a classic case of a person able to see the speck in another’s eye but unable to notice the beam in his own eye. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysians Rally at Anti-Najib Protest as He Vows to Stay On

Pooi Koon Chong and En Han Choong
Bloomberg
November 19, 2016

More ethnic Malays at 2016’s rally, Chinese still dominate

Thousands of Malaysians gathered in the country’s capital demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak as his critics sought to maintain pressure on the premier over a funding scandal.

Protesters in yellow shirts marched through downtown Kuala Lumpur amid heavy police presence as pro-government supporters threatened to disrupt the activities. Police said both sides didn’t have permissions to gather and closed roads ahead of the fourth major rally by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, or Bersih, since Najib came to power in 2009.

Bersih estimated 50,000 people attended the rally, including former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who has been a leading critic of Najib in the past year. The police, which deployed 7,000 officers to maintain public order and prevent clashes, didn’t immediately provide a figure on the crowd size. Bersih’s protest in 2015 drew an estimated 300,000 people. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tens of Thousands of Protesters Call for Najib Razak, Malaysian Leader, to Resign

By RICHARD C. PADDOCK
New York Times
NOV. 19, 2016

Malaysians Demand Resignation of Premier

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, on Saturday to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is accused of taking $1 billion from a government investment fund.

The protesters, wearing the yellow T-shirts of Malaysia’s clean government movement, known as Bersih, converged on the city center to hear their leaders call for Mr. Najib’s ouster. Among the speakers was former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, 91, who once chose Mr. Najib as prime minister but now criticizes his former protégé’s government as corrupt.

The authorities had tried to thwart the daylong, peaceful demonstration by arresting at least eight protest leaders on Friday, including Bersih’s chairwoman, Maria Chin Abdullah. She was being held under the country’s strict Security Offenses Act.

Human rights advocates criticized the arrests, which they said were aimed at suppressing turnout for the rally. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysian protesters march against Prime Minister Najib

By Rozanna Latiff and Praveen Menon | KUALA LUMPUR
Reuters
November 19, 2016

Tens of thousands of protesters, undeterred by the arrests of opposition leaders, marched in Malaysia’s capital on Saturday demanding that Prime Minister Najib Razak step down.

Protesters clad in yellow shirts marched through the heart of Kuala Lumpur bringing traffic to a standstill in several tourist spots, wrapping up peacefully in front of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers after an initial plan to assemble at Independence Square was thwarted by police.

Najib has faced criticism since the Wall Street Journal reported last year that around $700 million from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was diverted into the personal bank account of the prime minister.

Najib ran into further trouble when lawsuits filed by the U.S. Justice Department in July said over $3.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB, which was founded by Najib, and that some of those funds flowed into the accounts of “Malaysian Official 1”, whom U.S. and Malaysian officials have identified as Najib.

The demonstration is unlikely to shake the prime minister, who has denied wrongdoing and weathered the crisis, consolidating power by cracking down on dissenters. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia Braces for More Anti-Government Protests

Nash Jenkins
TIME
Nov. 18, 2016

As public opposition to his leadership has escalated, Najib Razak’s government has become more authoritarian

It’s difficult to say just how many Malaysians flooded the streets of Kuala Lumpur during the last weekend of August 2015 — by some estimates, 200,000, most of them dressed in the shade of canary yellow that has become the de facto hue of the global pro-democracy movement. They were there to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who had allegedly embezzled nearly $700 million in cash from a suffering state-development fund called 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB. (Najib has consistently denied the allegations.)

The protest, organized by a confederation of pro-democracy and anticorruption activists known as Bersih (which in Malay means clean), was one of Malaysia’s largest public gatherings in recent memory, and certainly the most spirited. “Malaysia is literally the perfect country … and it’s been completely spoiled by corruption and money politics,” one protester said at the time. “We’re finally tired of it.”

That was 15 months ago. This weekend, Bersih will reconvene, in Kuala Lumpur and in Malaysian communities around the world. But if the demonstration in 2015 was an exemplification of the democratic spirit — defiant, outspoken, responsibly optimistic — this weekend’s protests will likely demonstrate the frustration of that spirit when its ambitions are deferred.

Najib is still in power, and is in fact more powerful than ever: as public opposition to his leadership has escalated, his government has cracked down on Malaysia’s civil society, jailing his critics and blocking access to websites that publish controversial information. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia Protesters Gather Despite Arrests, Rally Ban

By YANTOULTRA NGUI and CELINE FERNANDEZ
Wall Street Journal
November 19, 2016

Najib Razak’s government has clamped down on opposition after questions emerged over the management of a state investment fund

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to demand the resignation of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, the day after police banned the protest and arrested two of the activists who planned it.

The arrests came hours after police and regulatory officials on Friday raided the office of the activist group known formally as the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, but better known as Bersih, the Malay word for clean.

​According to the pair’s lawyer, Bersih Chairwoman Maria Chin Abdullah was detained as part of a police investigation into whether she should be charged for the crime of attempting to undermine Malaysia’s parliamentary democracy. The lawyer said police arrested Mandeep Singh, who is secretary of Bersih’s secretariat, as part of an investigation into whether he should be charged with rioting.

Police later confirmed the arrests and subsequent detention of at least eight other Bersih activists. Law enforcers also told the Bersih group’s lawyers that Ms. Chin was detained under the country’s security laws while the investigation into her activities continued. Three organizers of a counter-demonstration by a pro-government group known as the Red Shirts were also arrested, according to the Red Shirt group. Police on Friday banned both rallies. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia intensifies crackdown on anti-corruption protesters

Jeevan Vasagar
Financial Times
NOVEMBER 19, 2016

Thousands take to the streets after leader is arrested under anti-terror law

Malaysian authorities have intensified their crackdown on anti-corruption protesters, detaining the leader of a campaign group under antiterrorism legislation as thousands of demonstrators gathered on the streets of the capital demanding the resignation of prime minister.

Protesters in yellow T-shirts flooded the streets of Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, waving Malaysian flags and caricatures of Najib Razak, who has been buffeted by allegations of corruption relating to state investment fund 1MDB.

Ahead of the protest, Maria China Abdullah, who chairs the Bersih reform movement, was arrested. Fellow campaigners said on Saturday that she had been held under antiterrorism legislation which allows 28 days detention without trial.

Ambiga Sreenevasan, a lawyer and Bersih activist, tweeted: “I am so very shocked to hear they are holding Maria under Sosma. What an utter abuse of power.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Thousands rally in Malaysia to demand the scandal-ridden prime minister resign

Simon Roughneen
Los Angeles Times
19th November 2016

Thousands of Malaysian opposition demonstrators marched in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday against alleged corruption in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government, a day after the protest organizer was arrested on charges of subverting democracy.

Throngs of yellow-clad protesters – the signature color of an electoral reform movement known as Bersih – rallied in defiance of a police ban and what they described as an ongoing campaign of official intimidation.

Demonstration organizer Maria Chin Abdullah, the chairwoman of Bersih, was arrested Friday evening on charges of activity “detrimental to parliamentary democracy.” The leader of a rival pro-government group was detained early Saturday, ostensibly an effort to prevent the two sides from clashing on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, a lively business hub.

Police blocked access to Kuala Lumpur’s main plaza, where protesters hoped to congregate and replicate demonstrations of past years. State news agency Bernama said that 15 people were arrested for “illegal assembly” at what was otherwise a peaceful protest.

The rally was a show of strength by Najib’s opponents but looked unlikely to shake his hold on power, which has weakened amid allegations that around $700 million in public money was deposited into bank accounts in his name. Read the rest of this entry »

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Thousands demonstrate against scandal-hit Malaysia PM

Aljazeera
19th November 2016

Protests against Najib Razak continue in Kuala Lumpur, where thousands of ‘yellow shirt’ anti-PM demonstrators gather.

Thousands of anti-government protesters marched in Malaysia’s capital demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak over his alleged involvement in a multi-billion dollar corruption scandal.

Clad in yellow shirts and unfazed by arrests of activists and opposition leaders, protesters marched on Saturday from various spots towards downtown Lumpur amid tight security.

Najib, who is attending an Asia-Pacific summit in Lima, Peru, has kept an iron grip since graft allegations emerged two years ago involving the indebted 1MDB state fund that he founded. 1MDB is at the center of investigations in the US and several other countries. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bersih and its followers and detractors

Mariam Mokhtar | November 19, 2016
Free Malaysia Today

The people who say it’s not the time to rally must tell us when the right time is.

You would have to be living on another planet to be unaware of Malaysia’s worst financial scandal and political crisis in recent memory. In her series of exposes on 1MDB, Clare Rewcastle-Brown has alleged that our leaders are ill-equipped to deal with large scale corruption. Many certainly agree that the 1MDB affair is about fraud on a massive scale.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that our so-called democratic system and institutions cannot stop Malaysia’s slide to becoming an international pariah. The right to dissent has been taken away from us. We are threatened with the Sedition Act and a slew of other draconian laws. The avenues for discourse have been reduced to so few that a complete overhaul of our institutions has become necessary if Malaysia is to retain any respect from the democratic world.

That’s why it’s important to support Bersih. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mahathir decries ‘thieves’ running Malaysia

AP
Bangkok Post
19 Nov 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad called for a sustained push to topple scandal-plagued Prime Minister Najib Razak as thousands rallied on Saturday to demand the premier’s resignation over the 1MDB corruption saga.

Malaysians clad in the yellow of the reformist Bersih campaign flooded Kuala Lumpur for the second time in 15 months to vent their anger over allegations that billions of dollars were looted from state investment fund 1MDB, Najib’s brainchild.

Speaking to a crowd of at least 20,000 in the shadow of the Petronas Towers, Mahathir, 91, accused Najib of stealing public money and said Malaysia was “controlled by thieves”.

“Time has come for us to topple this cruel regime. Najib is no longer suitable to be the prime minister. He is abusing the law,” Mahathir said.

Malaysia has been gripped since last year by the 1MDB scandal, which has sparked investigations in several countries. Najib, 63, and 1MDB deny wrongdoing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Khalid should stop acting as if he is mere apologist for UMNO’s Red Shirts which will undermine police honour and morale as overewhelming majority of policemen and policewomen are professional and non-partisan who want to be guardians of the Constitution, law and order in the country and not play political games

The Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, should stop acting as if he is mere apologist for UMNO’s Red Shirts which will undermine police honour and morale as the overwhelming majority of policemen and policewomen are professional and non-partisan who want to be the guardians of the Constitution, law and order of the country and do not want to play any political games.

The judgment by the High Court judge Justice Nathan Balan yesterday that the police are legally-bound to ensure the Red Shirts movement holds its counter-rally at a different location to prevent clashes with Bersih 2.0 supporters tomorrow should remind Khalid of his sworn and supreme duties to serve the country and not any single individual and to uphold the Constitution, law and order in the country.

In his ruling rejecting an application for an injunction to prevent Bersih 5 and a counter-rally from taking place in the capital city, Justice Nanthan said Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Act stated that the police must redirect any counter-rallies if they knew that clashes were imminent.

He said: “Section 18 of the PAA acts as a safety valve to diffuse any potential conflict therefore it is the duty of the police to prevent a clash or conflict should there is a possibility that it would eventuate.”

It is most shocking that in the past few weeks, the highest authorities in the land, including the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Minister, and the Inspector-General of Police seem to be totally ignorant of the existence of Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012 which was enacted to deal with the situation created by Red Shirts want to have a counter-rally in response to Bersih 5 rally.

Let all Malaysians be aware of Section 18 of the PAA on “Counter Assembly” which reads:

“18. If the Officer in Charge of a Police District receives a notification of a counter assembly and it is evident that the organization of the counter assembly will cause conflict between the participants of the assemblies, the Officer in Charge of the Police District shall give an alternative for the counter assembly to be organized at another time, date or place.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Is IGP’s preposterous statement a signal to the Red Shirts that the police will not uphold the law and ignore Section 18 of Peaceful Assembly Act, allowing the Red Shirts to go on a rampage tomorrow?

All decent and law-abiding Malaysians are shocked by the statement by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, who asked the preposterous question why those who do not abide by the law are requesting for police protection, asserting that “Those who want to ask for protection should obey the law first”.

Is the IGP’s response to former Bersih chairperson Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasan who had said that there are existing legal provisions that can be applied to prevent the Bersih rally and the Red Shirts counter-rally to occur simultaneously a signal, a blank cheque or even an invitation to the Red Shirts that they could do their worst as the police will not uphold the law and will ignore Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Act, allowing the Red Shirts to go on a rampage tomorrow?

Using Khalid’s logic, what should be the Inspector-General of Police’s role in a country which is regarded world-wide as a ”global kleptocracy”?

Is it to tell the Prime Minister and the government that they cannot expect the police to protect them and uphold the law until and unless they purge and cleanse Malaysia of the infamy and ignominy of such an epithet, as the Police and IGP do not want to be known worldwide as Police and IGP of a “global kleptocracy”? Read the rest of this entry »

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Prime Minister and Inspector-General of Police will be guilty of grave dereliction of duty if they fail to uphold the law and allow the Red Shirts to go on provocative rampage, resulting in clashes and ugly incidents on Saturday

Prime Minister Najib Razak has expressed concern over an imminent physical clash between ‘red shirt’ and ‘yellow shirt’ protesters during the Bersih 5 peaceful rally in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

He said: “If one side wants to protest and the side that wants to protect the government is compelled to come out … but I don’t want any physical clash.”

The Prime Minister and the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar will be guilty of grave dereliction of duty if they fail to uphold the law to ensure peace and order and instead, allow the Red Shirts to go on a provocative rampage resulting in clashes and ugly incidents on Saturday.

The Prime Minister and the Inspector-General of Police could not be ignorant of Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, which was enacted to deal with exactly the type of situation which the Red Shirts have created – a counter-demonstration.

The Red Shirts are fully entitled to hold a counter-demonstration in support of Najib’s undemocratic and kleptocratic rule, but they are not entitled to threaten or provoke breaches of the peace and acts of violence. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ex-BSI banker trial: Yeo Jiawei slept at Jho Low’s house, wore his clothes, says prosecutor

Grace Leong
Straits Times
Nov 17, 2016

DPP accuses defendant of downplaying ties with Malaysian tycoon

Former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei was so close to controversial Malaysian tycoon Jho Low that he slept at his apartment, flew on his private jet and even wore his clothes, a court heard yesterday.

The claims arose yesterday as Yeo’s previous testimony, including claims over referral fees he reaped and his relationship with Mr Low, came under intense scrutiny by prosecutors.

Yeo, who faces four counts of witness tampering, has repeatedly downplayed his close ties to Mr Low, who is under investigation here and elsewhere over money-laundering claims linked to scandal-hit Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Read the rest of this entry »

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Critic of Najib Razak, Malaysian Leader, Gets Prison for 1MDB Disclosure

By RICHARD C. PADDOCK
New York Times
NOV. 14, 2016

BANGKOK — An outspoken member of Malaysia’s Parliament was sentenced on Monday to 18 months in prison for publicly disclosing classified information from an official audit into a scandal-plagued government investment fund.

A lower court ruled that the lawmaker, Rafizi Ramli, was guilty of violating the Official Secrets Act by possessing and publicizing information from the document. Mr. Rafizi, who has served in Parliament since 2013, could also lose his seat and be barred from running for office for five years.

Rights advocates said the prosecution and conviction of a sitting member of Parliament for speaking publicly was unprecedented and was aimed at silencing one of the government’s most vocal critics. Read the rest of this entry »

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