The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Centre) strongly condemns the auditor general’s decision to classify the final federal audit report on the highly controversial 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) under the Official Secrets Act 1972.
While the audit report was aimed at investigating and shedding light on possible large-scale corruption pertaining to public funds, this move contradicts the underlying function of the audit itself.
Shielding the audit report under the OSA while preventing open discourse and debate amounts to obstruction of justice, given that it encroaches on the legal provisions set up for handling such cases. Furthermore, this effort runs contrary to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which Malaysia signed in 2003 and ratified in 2008.
Article 5(1) of the UNCAC stipulates, each State party shall, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its legal system…implement or maintain effective, coordinated anti-corruption policies that promote the participation of society and reflect the principles of the rule of law, proper management of public affairs and public property, integrity, transparency and accountability.
Given the above, it is the duty of the auditor general to ensure that this 1MDB scandal is investigated transparently with unhindered participation of the Public Accounts Committee members.
Instead, this move eliminates participation of society, impedes the rule of law, and obstructs transparency and accountability. This not only accentuates the controversy surrounding 1MDB investigations but injures the Malaysian justice system.
Plagued with severe accusations of corruption and mismanagement, the authorities of a free and fair democratic society would reveal more information rather than suppress findings.
This completely disruptive and perverse move reflects the ill health of the Malaysian democratic system and the disrespect for freedom of information, a pillar of democracy.
Thus, we call on the auditor general to respect the rule of law and the principle of justice by allowing proper debates and discourse on these crucial findings. The auditor general is duty bound to declassify the report immediately, given the huge public interest involved.
Stop hiding behind the OSA.
Cynthia Gabriel is executive director of the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Centre).