(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): Many people, including some purportedly in the Opposition, are behaving like hyenas baying for the blood of former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, accusing him of high crimes including treason and offences under the Official Secrets Act for appending documents in his three police reports last month on corruption and abuses of power in high political places, naming among others the Prime Minister, two senior Cabinet Ministers, namely the first Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin and the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz and the two top law officers of the land, the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah and Gani Patail.
Following the reported admission by Keadilan Youth leader and Anwar’s former political secretary Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor that Anwar had kept six boxes of government documents overseas and that it would be revealed in stages, there seems to be a concerted attempt to create a climate of opinion for the further prosecution of Anwar Ibrahim despite the initial reaction of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad evincing "reluctance" on the ground that "the foreign media would accuse the government of beihng cruel and undemocratic" if Anwar is charged for possessing secret government documents.
In Parliament, DAP Members of Parliament had repeatedly objected to the Official Secrets Act because it is being used to protect corruption, malpractices and abuses of power and had demanded that the higher public interest of ensuring a clean, honest and accountable government by exposing corruption, malpractices and abuses of power should be a valid defence for any breach of the Official Secrets Act.
Anwar is doing the people and country a national service if he can secure and reveal proof of corruption, malpractices and abuses of power in government, and the Prime Minister should give a firm assurance that neither Anwar nor anyone else will be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act or any other law of the land for exposing corruption, malpractices and abuses of power in government.
This is not because of any adverse reactions from the foreign media but because the Official Secrets Act should not be a charter for corruption, malpractices and abuses of power and the higher national interest to create a new political culture of integrity with zero tolerance for corruption in high political places.
A clean, trustworthy and accountable government should accord recognition to the important function and contribution of the "whistle-blowers" who sound the alarm about corruption, malpractices and abuses of power at great risk, and this is why the time has come to end the blanket prohibition on unauthorised disclosure of official information if this is in the public or national interest of ensuring a clean, honest, open and accountable government.
Instead of baying for the blood of Anwar Ibrahim, threatening him with all sorts of dire consequences, the Prime Minister should invite Anwar to be the No. 1 Whistle-blower against corruption, malpractices and abuses of power and set up an independent commission of inquiry to investigate into all the allegations, whether made or yet-to-be-made by Anwar, to demonstrate the government’s commitment to a clean, honest and accountable government.
*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic
Action Party Secretary-General & Member
of Parliament for Tanjong