|Opposition stunned by OSA probe|
The move by the police to interrogate several politicians under the draconian Official Secrets Act (OSA) for disclosing a toll concession agreement has come as a shock to the opposition.
Speaking at the DAP headquarters in Petaling Jaya today, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng described the government’s action as “unexpected”.
“We are shocked that the government is using the OSA to stifle opposition against the toll hike at a time where there’s mounting public anger.
“The government is using high level and heavy-handed tactics to try to silence and stop the unhappiness among the people,” he said.
Three opposition leaders have been summoned to the Bukit Aman police headquarters on Monday. They are DAP NGO bureau chief Ronnie Liu, Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s information chief Tian Chua and treasurer Khalid Ibrahim.
Earlier this month, the trio showed reporters a copy of a document pertaining to the agreement signed between the government and the concessionaire of the Damansara-Puchong Expressway.
The opposition argued that the 200-paged secret document showed the government had guaranteed profits to concessionaires at the expense of road users.
Following this, Works Minister S Samy Vellu has suggested to the cabinet that the attorney-general take action against those responsible for ‘stealing and exhibiting’ the toll concession agreements.
“It is classified secret … a restricted document of the government,” Samy Vellu was reported as saying.
Those found guilty of violating the OSA are liable to a mandatory jail sentence of at least one year.
The real thieves
DAP leader Lim said the police investigation detracts the public from the real ‘thieves’.
“The summons directly result from Samy Vellu coming up with a statement last week saying that they want to find out who stole the documents. Who is the (real) thief?
“I think we should asking who are the thieves that stole our country’s money and cause losses to the people when we use the highway,” he said.
Lim also said the contract shouldn’t be a state secret because as taxpayers, the people have a right to know about the contents of the toll concession agreement.
“What is so secretive about this contract that you have to hide it. People are paying money. We are the taxpayers. We have a right to know.
“We are not only paying taxes to the government, we’re also paying the toll company,” he decried.
The DAP stalwart urged the government to stop the investigation and made public the toll agreement.
“The country’s security is not compromised nor threatened and yet they say it’s an official secret,” he lamented.
Rise in crime
In another development, Lim expressed disappointment that the crime index in 2006 showed an increase of 15.74 percent nationwide. The only exception is Perlis, which registered a reduction of 7.5 percent.
He ticked off the government for misplacing its priorities by going after borrowers of loan sharks instead of fighting crime on the streets.
Lim was responding to a report in The Star yesterday stating those who borrowed money from loan sharks may find themselves prosecuted if a proposal by the police to the Housing and Local Government Ministry goes through.
“Loan sharking is an offence and people should know better than to go to the Ah Longs (loan sharks). The borrowers know very well what the Ah Longs are capable of doing if they fail to settle their debts,” said Federal Commercial Crime director Ramli Yusuf was quoted as saying.
Watch five-minute video clip of press conference
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