Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, MP For Tanjung and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Protest Meeting against Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill 1986 and Government White Paper on Co-operative Finance Calamity held at Min Seng Charitable Association Hall on Sunday, 23.11.1986 at 9 p.m.
Has the Government’s defeat in the Asian Wall Street Journal case made it more stubborn to ram through the OSA Amendment Bill?
The Government suffered defeat in the Asian Wall Street Journal case, when the Supreme Court found in favour of the AWSJ journalists, holding that the rule of natural justice on the right to be heard has to be observed in the exercise of the Home Ministry’s powers to expel foreign journalists.
The Supreme Court judgement was hailed by Malaysians as an important judgement in the defence of the constitutional right of freedom of speech and expression, as well as the principles of good government which requires the government to explain and justify its decisions and actions.
Although the Government gracefully complied with the Supreme Court judgement, in revoking the suspension order on the Asian Wall Street Journal, conceding that in similar circumstances, the rules of natural justice apply, it would appear that the government’s defeat in the Asian Wall Street Journal is having a great bearing on the Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill.
The government’s attitude on the Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill seem to have hardened after its defeat in the Asian Wall Street Journal case, and Malaysians have a right to know whether the Government’s defeat in the Asian Wall Street Journal Case has made the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General more stubborn and determined to ram through the OSA Amendment Bill despite widespread public opposition and protest.
One of the most obnoxious features of the OSA Amendment Bill is its open distrust of the Judiciary, and attack on the doctrine of the separation of powers between the Legislate the Executive and the Judiciary.
Under the OSA Amendment Bill, judges will be deprived of their discretionary power to pass sentence according to the gravity of the offence, for under the Bill, an offender who steal and sell official information either for monetary gain or because of disloyalty to Malaysia, will be put on the same level as an offender who discloses official information in the public interest to check corruption or government malpractices – for they will all have to face the mandatory minimum one-year jail sentence.
Judges will also not be empowered to review the certificate of a Minister or any public officer claiming that a document is ‘official secret’, although such information is available freely outside the country, in technical or other specialized publications.
The Official Secrets Amendment Bill, therefore, constitutes a serious attack on the independence of the Judiciary, and all Malaysians
who cherish the independence of the Judiciary, the Rule of Law, as well as our democratic rights and freedoms, must make their opposition to the OSA Amendment Bill loud and clear in the next two weeks, before the Bill is made into law by the brute fourth-fifth Barisan Nasional majority in Parliament.
Malaysians must not allow their fundamental rights and freedoms to be taken away without a fight, and this is why the DAP has organized nation-wide protest meetings against the OSA Amendment Bill. We want to arouse the maximum number of Malaysians to realise how oppressive, draconian the OSA Amndment Bill will be, and to make them commit themselves to a long-term political struggle to restore their lost democratic rights. Let all Malaysians give notice to the Prime Minister and the Barisan Nasional parties that if they rode roughshod over public opinion next month, by ramming through the OSA Amendment Bill with their fourth-fifth parliamentary majority, the people of Malaysia will declare a long-term struggle to restore their democratic rights starting with the repeal of the Official Secrets Act.