KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 — Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli lost his appeal bid against an 18-month jail sentence under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) at the High Court here today, casting a shadow on his eligibility to contest the next general elections.
High Court judge Datuk Azman Abdullah set aside Rafizi’s conviction for possessing of a part of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) Audit Report, but upheld his second conviction for disclosing contents of the report to the public via a media conference in March 2016.
Despite one of the two convictions being set aside, the PKR lawmaker will still face a 18-month jail sentence as the previous two convictions were ordered to be served concurrently in previous Sessions Court ruling.
However, the judge granted a stay of execution pending an appeal to the Court of Appeal, with Rafizi’s lawyer Gobind Singh Deo confirming that the final appeal bid will be lodged today, and that requests will also be made for expedited hearing.
Rafizi will not be able to contest the 14th general elections if his conviction is not overturned before the next polls due by next August.
An elected representative will face automatic disqualification if he or she is sentenced to a prison term not less than a year or a fine not below RM 2,000.
However, the disqualification would not come into effect unless the entire appeal process is exhausted.
The appeal at the Appellate Court will be Rafizi’s last bid to overturn his conviction.
In a press conference in March last year at Parliament, Rafizi made public contents of the 1MDB audit report, which was classified under OSA, in a bid to show links between Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera and the state-owned 1MDB.
He was arrested a week later at the Parliament gates, and was found guilty by the Sessions Court for possessing and disclosing part of the report.
If his conviction is upheld, Rafizi would also be unable to contest elections for another five years after serving his sentence.
The first-term MP recently resigned as PKR’s secretary general due to the OSA conviction.
Rafizi said that he remained hopeful that the conviction would be overturned so that he could contest in the next elections.
“As things stand, I can't contest, but we are (hopeful),” he said.
Gobind, who is also Puchong MP, said that they are now focusing on exhausting the legal process for Rafizi.