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7 Things You Need To Know About Rafizi's 18-Month Jail Sentence

The Pandan MP is found guilty of breaching the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972.

Cover image via AFP

Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli was sentenced to 18 months jail yesterday, 14 November. He was found guilty of exposing documents related to the 1MDB scandal to the media.

Here are some things that you should know about this verdict:

Sessions Court judge Zulqarnain Hassan imposed the 18-month jail sentence for two offences committed by Rafizi, to be carried out concurrently, after finding him guilty of breaching the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972.

What really happened?
In April, Rafizi was arrested at the Parliament lobby in Jalan Parliament. He was slapped with two charges for possessing and disclosing a page from the Auditor-General's classified report on state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

When did this happen?
He was said to have committed the act at the Parliament building between 24 March and 28 March in the late afternoon.

Why did Rafizi disclose that document to the media?
The document allegedly proves a link between Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (Armed Forces Fund Board ) (LTAT) and controversial state fund 1MDB. He claims that 110 armed forces veterans were not being paid their gratuity on time.

Why can't he use the documents to support his allegations?
In July, Auditor-General (A-G) Ambrin Buang reportedly told the Sessions Court that he took steps to classify the 1MDB final audit report under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) to prevent leakage and protect the integrity of the National Audit Department (NAD). Anyone who discloses a document that is classified under the OSA would have committed an offence.

What's next for Rafizi?

1. Rafizi's legal team would file an appeal

"I am confident in my legal team and believe that I have a good chance of winning the appeal case at the High Court. I have asked Gobind, Saiful Izham and Ahmad Nizam, along with the young lawyers, to file an appeal at the High Court as soon as possible," said Rafizi, referring to his team of lawyers who would file an appeal on behalf of him.

2. He is prepared to go to jail should he lose the appeal

Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli (second from left) was arrested and charged in April this year.

Image via Mohd Fadli Hamzah/Berita Harian

"I know I have to be realistic about the likelihood of being jailed and that it can happen in just a few months from now."

"Every time I prayed to Allah SWT, I've never asked to be released or not to go to jail. Instead, I prayed that Allah will help me accept (yesterday's) verdict, whatever it may be, and everything else to come as He had planned," he said in a status that was posted on his official Facebook page today.

3. He is still the Member of Parliament (MP) of Pandan

The Election Commission has cleared the air regarding Rafizi's status as Pandan MP by saying that his position as the MP will remain status quo until the appeal process has gone through the Federal Court.

"The seat will not be vacated," Election Commission (EC) chairperson Mohd Hashim Abdullah was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini.

The Federal Constitution states that members of the parliament can lose their seats if they are jailed for more than a year or fined for more than RM2,000.

4. However, he may not be able to contest in the next general election

Image via Wikimedia

Although the Pandan MP retains his seat for now, he would be ruled out of elections due within the next 18 months if the conviction is not set aside on appeal.

"The court granted a bail of RM6,000 pending the appeal. However, he will not be able to stand in the general election if Parliament is dissolved pending his appeal," Rafizi’s counsel, Gobind Singh Deo was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today.

5. Rafizi will continue being a vocal whistleblower

He has listed down some of the major things that he will highlight while he still can, namely Tabung Haji and the RM55 billion East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) project that will span four states in peninsular Malaysia.

Rafizi also said that he will continue to respond to issues such as the National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN), pensions fund, discrepancies between salaries of high and low ranking civil servants, the abolition of the goods and services tax (GST) amongst others.

6. Rafizi will be traveling to different states, recruiting and training volunteers to campaign against PM Najib Razak's administration

"Starting next week, I will be travelling to each state to focus on seats where BN won marginally, to ensure that I have campaigned at each state and marginal seat by end of January 2017."

"In each state, I will spend the days recruiting and training volunteers and the nights shaking up the marginal seats with new exposes through the #LawanTetapLawan ceramah series," he wrote.

"I have long been ready for the situation that I am in and I have prepared everything that needs to be done to fight the Najib administration."

"Those who feel I was stupid for defending the army retirees must know that I did so not for political support or positions. We must speak for those who can’t speak for themselves."

7. Rafizi has a message for his supporters: "Do not despair. I do not have a single regret and the most peaceful thing in life is knowing you did the right thing."

Image via Rafizi Ramli

"Everything that is supposed to govern this country in a just and fair manner has broken down. The only way to change this and make Malaysia promising again is for each of us to play our role," he said.

He has urged Malaysians to join him and volunteer with Invoke Malaysia, a group made of thousands of volunteers "who will ensure that Najib will lose all the marginal seats held by UMNO/BN".

According to Invoke Malaysia, there have been 1,500 new volunteer sign-ups in the past 12 hours.

Rafizi was one of the loudest voice of opposition when Attorney-General Apandi proposed for stricter punishment under the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA) earlier this year:

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