The Rafizi arrest: Blowing off the messenger

Aliran condemns the arrest of Parti Keadilan Rakyat strategic director Mohd Rafizi Ramli under section 97(1) of the Banks and Financial Institutions Act (Bafia), which carries a maximum jail sentence of three years and a fine of up to RM3m.

Rafizi Ramli – Photograph: Keadilan Daily

Very much known for his recent expose of the award of the Ampang LRT extension project to water-meter and tank-maker George Kent, Rafizi’s arrest today was associated with his disclosure of three financial accounts related to the controversial National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) and its chairperson Mohd Salleh Ismail.

Rafizi was charged for having allegedly breached the secrecy provisions of the banking law “by producing, divulging, revealing, publishing or otherwise disclosing, of any information or document whatsoever relating to the affairs or account of a banking customer”.

For all intents and purposes, the arrest is tantamount to criminalising a conscientious whistleblower whose primary objective is to reveal information for the benefit of the general public and taxpayers.

Worse, this arrest can also be interpreted as a warning to future whistleblowers who intend to unravel financial scandals involving individuals close to the powers-that-be. This is certainly a foolish way to convince the Malaysian public that the Najib administration is serious about waging war against corruption.

The arrest and charge mounted against Rafizi in the wake of the George Kent controversy only lends credence to the suspicion that the PKR strategic director’s latest move has made the ruling Umno-BN so jittery that it responded with a knee-jerk reaction.

We call upon the federal government to stop criminalising conscientious citizens such as Rafizi — and instead to seriously go after the crooked.

READ MORE:  MACC incident reflects lack of protection for whistleblowers?

Aliran Executive Committee
1 August 2012.

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