KUALA LUMPUR: Elected representatives should not be robbed of their right to speak up independently, without fear or favour, said the Center for a Better Tomorrow (CENBET).
Even former ministers are not precluded from their right to ask questions or debate issues of national importance, whether in Parliament or outside, it added.
CENBET also pointed out that former ministers enjoy parliamentary immunity when speaking in the House.
The Official Secrets Act (OSA), reminded the think tank, was about national security. “This includes key military installations and sensitive intelligence findings.”
Instead of going after the messenger, continued the statement, the government should clear the air on the issues raised.
Using veiled threats to gag any lawmaker, said CENBET, undermines parliamentary democracy. “The country was built on the doctrine of separation of powers.”
CENBET was commenting on media reports that former ministers Muhyiddin Yassin, Shafie Apdal and Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah were taken to task for raising the 1MDB issue in Parliament last week.
The three are also being investigated after police reports were lodged against them.
CENBET urged police to specify the basis for investigating them under the OSA.
“The ex-ministers largely rehashed information already in the public domain.
“The public fear the police are being used to silence government critics.”
The three former Cabinet ministers are also Members of Parliament, CENBET pointed out, adding that, “that gives them the right to ask questions (in Parliament).”