Malaysian opposition politician detained

PKR secretary-general arrested over alleged wrongful communication of classified files

A top opposition politician was detained yesterday in connection with a breach of the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

Mr Rafizi Ramli, vice-president and secretary-general of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), was arrested as he was leaving Parliament over alleged wrongful communication of classified documents.

Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed this on Twitter, saying, "Royal Malaysian Police confirm that YB Rafizi Ramli has been detained a while ago, outside the Parliament building, and will be investigated under Section 8 of the OSA," using Mr Rafizi's official title of Yang Berhormat Tuan.

Under the OSA, anyone guilty of unauthorised access to or dissemination of classified information can be jailed for one to seven years.

Kuala Terengganu MP Raja Kamarul Bahrain witnessed Mr Rafizi's arrest by up to a dozen police officers. "I called out to him to ask what's happening, but the police did not let me speak to him and instructed me to move along," he told The Straits Times.

Mr Rafizi's detention is related to a press conference he held on March 28, at which he claimed he was in possession of an excerpt of the Auditor-General's report on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which had been classified under the OSA.

He had alleged that the excerpt is proof of state investment vehicle 1MDB being partly to blame for the Armed Forces Fund Board's (LTAT) delayed gratuity payments to its members.

The press conference was one of many he had held recently to expose that army pensioners had allegedly not received their gratuity payments from LTAT since 2014.

The LTAT had responded by initiating legal action against him.

In a press conference yesterday, PKR lawmakers condemned the manner of Mr Rafizi's arrest. PKR parliamentary whip Johari Badul said the arrest was over the top, as Mr Rafizi had earlier indicated his willingness to be investigated.

Subang MP R. Sivarasa said a group of lawyers was assembling to assist Mr Rafizi and they were trying to confirm where he had been taken for investigation.

However, Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department Director Commissioner Mortadza Nazarene confirmed to the Malay Mail Online that Mr Rafizi had been brought to police headquarters in Bukit Aman. He said Mr Rafizi will be kept overnight for investigations and may be detained for a longer period if necessary.

This is not the first time Mr Rafizi has run afoul of the authorities for revealing confidential documents. He had earlier been questioned by police under the OSA in July 2012 for revealing confidential documents related to the Ampang rail line extension project. He was also charged under the Banking and Financial Institution Act for allegedly disclosing four customers' bank accounts related to the National Feedlot Corporation financial scandal. The case is still ongoing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2016, with the headline 'Malaysian opposition politician detained'. Print Edition | Subscribe