KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 — Putrajaya’s move to charge Rafizi Ramli has only served to raise the PKR strategy chief’s public stature in the run-up to key national polls as it appears to run counter to the federal government’s pledge to combat corruption, a Singapore paper suggested today.
Rafizi was charged on August 1 with violating the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (BAFIA) in exposing confidential banking details related to National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd (NFCorp), in a case that has put whistleblower protection laws under greater scrutiny.
“Transparency International Malaysia has urged for whistleblowers to be protected as they ‘put themselves at great risk to their livelihood and career and also to their work, family and community relationships’,” Singapore’s Business Times reported today.
File photo of Rafizi (right) being led in handcuffs when he was charged with violating the Banking and Financial Institutions Act on August 1, 2012.
The anti-graft watchdog has stressed that public perception of selective prosecution would prove damaging to Malaysia’s enforcement agencies in the fight against corruption, as well as being inconsistent with the purpose of the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 despite Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s denial of double standards, the paper reported.
The paper highlighted the different treatment the authorities accorded Rafizi when they handcuffed him during a pre-dawn arrest at his home before taking him to court and the man whose company he had exposed for alleged corruption in a RM250 million cattle farming scandal, NFCorp chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Salleh Ismail, who was left uncuffed to walk into court.
“Already, the prosecution of Mr Rafizi has only served to raise his stature in the eyes of the public,” the paper said in its article titled “Govt may be making the wrong move in charging Rafizi” published today.
Apart from his NFCorp expose, Rafizi has gained additional prominence after he went public with confidential Treasury documents showing an allegedly less-qualified consortium led by engineering firm George Kent, which he has linked to Najib, weeks before the government announced it as the winning bid for a lucrative RM1 billion rail expansion project in the Klang Valley.
Rafizi has also accused Najib of interfering in the bidding process by awarding the contract to a close associate who owns George Kent.
The paper noted that Rafizi’s role in exposing financial mismanagement in companies linked to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government has raised his profile as among the young up-and-coming politicians in the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact that could see a regime change in Malaysia for the first time since the nation gained independence 55 years ago.
“Should the 35-year-old accountant be fielded in the coming general election, he is expected to be a formidable opponent,” the paper said.
Rafizi has told The Malaysian Insider that despite the legal hurdles he will continue his revelations on alleged corruption in the government.
He faces two court charges for his exposes that could land him in jail and set him back millions of ringgit and a shot at a Parliament seat.