(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday):
The harsh two-year jail sentence imposed on Keadilan
Youth chief Mohd Ezam Mohd Noor by the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court today after
being found guilty of committing an offence under the Officials Secrets Act (OSA)
is powerful testimony that in Malaysia corruption is no crime while exposing
corruption is the heinous crime.
prosecution and conviction of Ezam under the Official Secrets Act are an outrage
as they offend the most elementary notions of what is right and wrong, decency, morality and the
rule of law.
Ezam was found guilty of contravening the Official Secrets Act for exposing secret documents of the corruption investigations of International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz and former Malacca chief minister Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik at a press conference in November 1999.
Ezamís conviction under the Official Secrets Act can only mean the truth and veracity of the documents, viz. firstly, a document of the Prosecution Division, Attorney-Generalís Office dated 14th March 1995 signed by Abdul Gani Patail which stated that there was prima facie basis to prosecute Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz, the Minister for International Trade and Industry, on five counts of corruption under Section 2(2), Ordinance 11, 1970; and secondly, that the Attorney-Generalís Chambers and the ACA had concluded by June 1994 that there was prima facie case to prosecute the then Chief Minister of Malacca, Rahim Tamby Cik on four charges of corruption based on the information supplied to the Anti-Corruption Agency by the former DAP Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng.
If Ezam is to be convicted and jailed for violating the Official Secrets Act for exposing these two secret documents of the corruption investigations of International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz and former Malacca chief minister Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik, then Rafidah and Rahim should be arrested and charged for corruption since Ezamís conviction has proven the genuineness about the contents of the two secret documents.
Rahim is no more active politically, but the least Rafidah should do with the conviction and two-year jail sentence of Ezam today is for her to resign as Cabinet Minister Ė as it is outrageous for her to be the walking proof that in Malaysia, corruption is no crime but exposing corruption is the heinous crime.
I met Ezam, his wife Bahirah
Tajol Aris, their three small children and
his parents at the PJ Sessions
Court after the pronouncement of conviction and sentence, before Ezam was taken
to Kajang Prison to start his two-year jail sentence.
I told Ezam that
life in Kajang Prison would be very different from the
Kamunting Detention Centre Ė and that he is probably the first Internal
Security Act detainee sent to prison while still serving the ISA detention order
Ė raising the question as to whether the ISA detention order is quashed or merely suspended.
Ezam was very brave
and said he had expected the harsh
sentence, and that was why he had already packed his things in the Kamunting
detention centre where he would not be returning for at least 18 months pending
the outcome of his appeal.
It is a shame and
an indictment of the system of governance and justice in Malaysia every day Ezam
languishes in jail for exposing the two secret documents if
no action is taken on the contents of the secret documents.
Now that the
contents of the two secret documents have become public as a result of the
trial, the government cannot hide behind the Official Secrets Act to give a full
accounting on the corruption investigations into Rafidah and Rahim.
Two days ago, the
Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi ordered the
Anti-Corruption Agency to investigate alleged land graft in
PAS-run Kelantan state government involving enforcement officers, raising
questions about the independence of the ACA as in all previous corruption
complaints involving the Barisan
Nasional leaders or supporters, top government leaders had maintained a
hands-off approach claiming that ACA
is independent and that they could not issue any instructions or directives to
conviction establishing the
genuineness of the two secret documents, will Abdullah now direct the ACA to
re-open investigations into Rafidah and Rahim as well as a broader investigation
as to why both had not been arrested and prosecuted despite the decision and
conclusion of the Attorney-Generalís Office that there was prima facie case to
prosecute both for corruption?
Or can the ACA re-open both cases without any directive from Abdullah? Let Abdullah and the ACA director-general, Datuk Zulkipli Mat Noor, speak up.