AG Apandi Threatens Life Imprisonment For People Leaking Official Secrets

And 10 strokes of the rotan as punishments.

Cover image via The Star Online

In what can only be described as another attack on the Press Freedom in Malaysia, Attorney-General Mohamad Apandi Ali is mulling to amend the Official Secrets Act 1972 to increase the punishment for those who leak state Secrets and journalists who report them, adding that there were increasing cases of official secrets being leaked and reported by the media quoting sources

He said the Chambers was looking into amending the Official Secrets Act 1972 to punish those who leak official secrets, including civil servants, the public and media practitioners who refused to disclose their sources. He said the punishment include the possibility of life imprisonment and 10 strokes of the rotan.

“In some countries, the leaking of official secrets is a very serious offence. For example, it carries the death sentence in China,” he told Sin Chew Daily in an exclusive interview.

These charges extended to journalists found protecting or refusing to disclose their sources by invoking journalistic ethics. They will be considered collaborating with a potential saboteur, the A-G added.

Image via Sin Chew Daily

"We may charge journalists who refuse to reveal their sources. I am not joking. If I have 90 percent of evidence, I will charge the journalist, editor, assistant editor and editor-in-chief. I am serious, no kidding. We have too many leakage of secrets in Malaysia. The right to know is not granted by the constitution," he said.

The country's top Prosecutor also said that the leaking of official secrets would danger the safety of the country, adding that the Government would be toppled if official secrets were leaked

An ‘official secret’ under the Official Secrets Act 1972 include any information, document or material that may be classified as ‘Top Secret’, ‘Secret’, ‘Confidential’ or ‘Restricted’, by designated ministerial officials or designated public officials.

The existing punishment for those who found guilty of leaking information is to serve as sentence of at least one year’s jail.

In November 2015, the Dewan Rakyat was told that the government would review its proposal to amend the Official Secrets Act 1972

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Razali Ibrahim, in a written reply, said the act was aimed at upholding the government's integrity.

"Some documents are not supposed to be made public especially those that are still in discussion. The act of leaking confidential information will affect the government's administration and may even pose a threat to our security and economy," he said.

Meanwhile, while responding to a question on why Prime Minister Najib Razak did not initiate civil defamation suits against Sarawak Report and WSJ, Apandi said needs to have 90 percent evidence before filing any charges against either of the two media entities

Apandi did not rule out initiating criminal defamation charges against Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) should he obtain "90 percent evidence".

However, he said he has yet to complete his examination of the investigation reports to see if there is any breach of criminal defamation laws. He insisted that he needs to have 90 percent evidence before filing any charges against either of the two.