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PETALING JAYA, Feb 7 — MP Rafizi Ramli’s 30-year jail sentence for exposing confidential banking data on the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) and its chairman is a reminder that there are legal limits to justice crusaders, Barisan Nasional (BN) politicians said today.
Umno MP for Pulai Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the law is clear and those who break it must pay the penalty.
“Let this be a firm reminder that there is no immunity from prosecution for criminal acts whether one is a member of the public or an elected representative.
“Holding office does not mean that you have a mandate to break the law to push this kind of ‘justice’. Such behaviour is unbecoming of an MP,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.
Nur Jazlan also said today’s judgment proves the courts are impartial in delivering justice as even those who hold public office will be punished when they break the law.
“It does not matter who is involved. If there is wrongdoing, the public can rest assured that the legal system will move forward without any political interference.
“This was not a political issue as some have claimed and indeed as some are still claiming. The bottom line is that he broke the law in obtaining and making public information protected under the Banking and Financial Institutions Act 1989,” the deputy home minister said.
Nur Jazlan urged members of the public to think twice before violating information protection Acts including the Official Secrets Act, pointing out that the bank officer who had passed the information to Rafizi had also received the same sentence.
“Not to be unsympathetic, but this case has at least raised awareness on the importance of complying with the law and of the danger in passing on protected information on to any party. The courts have acted justly in passing this sentence.
“There will be no other outcome for those breaking the law. There is nothing to gain from obtaining and disseminating such information,” he said.
BN strategic communications deputy director Eric See-To said the Pandan MP did not deserve the public’s sympathy, urging the public not to fall for his “sob story”.
“The law is the law. While no one wants to see anyone go to jail, it’s important to set Rafizi;s story straight on what actually happened.
“Essentially, Rafizi had broken the BAFIA act to expose private bank statements of NFC to make an allegation that was later proven by the court to be false,” he said.
See-To said Rafizi had taken advantage of the case for his own personal fame and gain and attempted to play the “hero” for exposing alleged wrongdoing.
“Due to this, Rafizi rose out of obscurity to become a household name. He was then given the Pandan parliament seat to run in GE13, which he won and has drawn an RM29,000 monthly tax-free salary ever since.
“Using his fame, he has also collected millions in donation from the public where some of the money was later traced to pay for a service fee for a Rafizi-owned company supplying manpower to Invoke,” he said.
He also said that Rafizi was not even the first person to expose the NFC issue, asserting that it was the ruling BN government that had done so.
“The 2010 Auditor-General’s Report saying that NFC had failed to comply with the objectives of its formation after a soft loan of RM250 million was given by the government.
“At the time of the March 2012 ‘expose’ by Rafizi, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee was already examining the NFC issue based on what was revealed in the AG report,” he told Malay Mail.
Earlier today, the Sessions Court found PKR lawmaker Rafizi guilty of violating Section 97(1) of the BAFIA by exposing Public Bank confidential customer-profile documents comprising balance summaries relating to the NFC, National Meat and Livestock Sdn Bhd, Agroscience Industries Sdn Bhd and NFC chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail to media consultant Yusuf Abdul Alim and a local newspaper reporter in 2012.
He was sentenced to two-and-a-half-years in jail instead of the maximum penalty of three years, or a maximum fine of RM3 million or both provided by Section 103(1)(a) of the BAFIA.
Former Public Bank clerk Johari Mohamad, 47, who was charged with abetting Rafizi in the crime, was also sentenced to 30 months in jail.
However, the court stayed their sentence pending their appeal.