Rafizi still an MP for now, says lawyer

gobind-singh-deo-rafizi-ramli-court-malaysia-1KUALA LUMPUR: Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli will not have to give up his seat for now, despite facing an 18-month jail sentence for leaking the 1MDB audit report, which had been classified under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

He will only be forced to vacate his seat if his final appeal at the Court of Appeal against the conviction for revealing the contents of the report in a press conference at the Parliament building last year, is dismissed.

Lawyer Gobind Singh said that for now Rafizi will remain an MP.

“The law states that one needs to go through the entire appeal process before any change is made to the status of an MP,” Gobind told reporters at the High Court here.

Article 48 of the Federal Constitution disqualifies a person from being an MP for five years should the elected representative be convicted and sentenced to more than 12 months in jail, or fined more than RM2,000.

Gobind was responding to a question on Rafizi’s status as an MP after the High Court’s decision to uphold a lower court conviction and 18-month jail sentence on the PKR vice-president.

The High Court had earlier dismissed Rafizi’s appeal on his conviction for the charge under Section 8(1)(c)(iv) of the OSA for leaking page 98 of the 1MDB audit report in March last year.

However, Justice Azman Abdullah, who is hearing Rafizi’s appeal, allowed his appeal against the conviction for another charge under Section 8(1)(c)(iii) for possessing the page in question.

Rafizi told reporters that he would not be able to stand in the next general election if his appeal was not heard before the election date.

“Nothing has changed as far as my current status on my eligibility and it is business as usual for me,” he said.

Rafizi added that as a politician, he was mentally prepared to face the hurdles in carrying out his tasks.

“Whatever good news we get, is good news. And whatever remains, does not change anything,” he said, in referring to the acquittal on the first charge of possession and conviction on the second charge of revealing the contents of the report.