Press Statement

Lawyers For Liberty condemns the arrest and prosecution of whistleblowers Rafizi Ramli, PKR Strategic Director and Johari Osman, former Public Bank clerk under sections 112(1)(c) and 97(1) of the Banking and Financial Institutions Act 1989 (BAFIA) following a series of revelations of corruption related to the National Feedlot Corporation  (NFC) and its chairperson Mohd Salleh Ismail, husband of Shahrizat Jalil, former Minister of Women, Family and Community Development.

Instead of investigating the many allegations of corruption, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the police and the Attorney General proceeded to arrest and charge the whistleblowers under the BAFIA for revealing financial accounts related to the NFC. The act of criminalizing the whistleblowers under the BAFIA is tainted with mala fide, aimed to suppress evidence of government-linked corruption and protect other perpetrators from being brought to justice.

It is to be noted that the act of whistleblowing related to the NFC has led to the prosecution of its chairperson for criminal breach of trust and violation of the company law which goes to show that the revelations are substantiated. We would also stress upon the fact that any confidentiality the BAFIA seeks to protect does not supersede criminal acts just like any other corrupt practices including money laundering, criminal breach of trust and corruption that utilize banking process.

The Whistleblower Act 2010 which lacks protective safeguards has failed in its object to protect whistleblowers as the authorities continue to criminalize the act of whistleblowing particularly in government-linked corruption cases.

We also condemn the highhandedness inflicted on Rafizi Ramli and Johari Osman who were arrested early in the morning and unnecessarily handcuffed despite full cooperation given to the police, contrary to the VIP treatment given to the NFC chairperson, Mohd Salleh Ismail who has been charged for criminal breach of trust and violation of company law.

We demand the Attorney General to immediately drop the charges against Rafizi Ramli and Johari Osman and bring to justice the perpetrators involved in the crime of corruption related to the NFC.

Released by Lawyers For Liberty

1 August 2012