The auditor-general's decision to classify the final federal audit report on 1MDB under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) is an obstruction to justice, said an anti-graft NGO.
"While the audit report was aimed at investigating and shedding light on possible large-scale corruption pertaining to public funds, this move contradicts the underlying function of the audit itself," said Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) executive director Cynthia Gabriel, in a statement today.
She added that shielding the report under the OSA prevents open discourse and debates, but more importantly, it amounts to obstruction of justice as it encroaches on the legal provisions set up for handling such cases.
This decision also goes against the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which Malaysia had signed in 2003 and ratified in 2008.
Article 5(1) of the UNCAC states that "each state party shall, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its legal system... implement or maintain effective, coordinated anti-corruption policies that promote the participation of society and reflect the principles of the rule of law, proper management of public affairs and public property, integrity, transparency and accountability".
As such, it is auditor-general Ambrin Buang's duty to ensure that the 1MDB investigation is transparent and with "unhindered participation" of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) members, she said.
"Instead, this move eliminates participation of society, impedes the rule of law and obstructs transparency and accountability," Gabriel said.
This, she said, has only accentuated the controversy around 1MDB investigations, as well as injuring the Malaysian justice system.
'Respect the rule of law'
If the authorities were of a free and fair democratic society, they would reveal more information instead of suppressing their findings, she said.
Hence, Gabriel pointed out that the decision to shield the findings reflects on the worsening of the Malaysian democratic system and a disrespect for freedom of information which is a pillar of democracy.
"Thus, we urge the auditor-general to respect the rule of law and the principle of justice by allowing proper debates and discourse on this crucial findings.
"The auditor-general is duty-bound to declassify the report immediately, given the huge public interest involved. Stop hiding behind the OSA," she said.
PAC deputy chairperson Tan Seng Giaw yesterday confirmed to Malaysiakini that the auditor-general's report on 1MDB to the PAC has been classified under the OSA.
The PAC is currently probing into 1MDB, though its investigations were temporarily halted after the cabinet reshuffle in July last year where several members of the PAC then had been given deputy ministerships, including former PAC chairperson Nur Jazlan Mohamed .