The decision by the government of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to place the auditor-general’s report on 1MDB under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) is ripe for a legal challenge.
The MP for Ipoh Barat, M Kulasegaran, in remarks made at the 50th anniversary of his party’s Bercham branch on Saturday, noted that nowhere in the constitutional provisions on the auditor-general’s role does it say that the auditor-general’s findings can be prorogued by the prime minister.
“By placing the auditor-general’s report on 1MDB under an OSA seal, the government has prorogued the constitutional exercise of that office,” said the federal legislator from the DAP.
As outlined by the constitution, Kulasegaran said, the auditor-general's role is to submit reports of the financial performance and state of the government to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and to Parliament for public scrutiny of legislators and people who elected them.
“In no way can the auditor-general’s reports be impounded and prorogued by executive fiat,” commented Kulasegaran.
He said that in placing the auditor-general’s report on 1MDB under the seal of a law as “obsolete” as the OSA of 1972, the government had obstructed the constitutional exercise of that office.
“The government is in contempt of the Federal Constitution and as such, the decision to place the auditor-general’s report under OSA is ripe for a legal challenge in the courts,” said the lawyer, who is the DAP national vice-chairperson.
Kulasegaran said time was nigh that “something as obsolete as the OSA be replaced by a Freedom of Information Act, such as the state governments in Penang and Selangor have promulgated, in what may be described as a trailblazing way”.
“The federal government should not hide behind laws that are holdovers from a colonial era, especially when the former colonial powers themselves have abandoned them in their home countries,” Kulasegaran said.