Friday, December 9, 2016

NGOs fear 'witch hunt', not the law, Nur Jazlan told

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The ongoing investigations on NGOs over foreign funding is a cause for concern because these are being done in bad faith, Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) says.

LFL executive director Eric Paulsen said today there have been cases where individuals were detained without trial and investigated under terrorism laws, among other forms of intimidation.

Moreover, said Paulsen, there appears to be a different set of rules on foreign funding when it comes to the government and BN.

"It is therefore reasonable for NGOs not to trust the investigating authorities as clearly they are out on a fishing expedition, to look for improbable evidence to support their reckless claims of 'foreign funded agenda to topple the government' or 'activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy'," Paulsen said in a statement.

Paulsen said this in response to Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed, who said the NGOs under investigation had nothing to fear if they had nothing to hide.

Several NGOs, including electoral reforms pressure group Bersih, human rights watchdogs Suaram and LFL, were called in by the police for fresh rounds of questioning this week over funding related matters.

No laws to ban foreign funding

They were called in days after Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the Umno general assembly that the government would be taking action on dissidents funded by outsiders .

Paulsen said that there currently was no law to criminalise foreign funding for governments, NGOs or business entities.
"To portray otherwise is of course ludicrous as the government has been receiving foreign funds or aid for decades from multiple international sources," the lawyer added.
Instead of going after NGOs, Paulsen said, Nur Jazlan should order the authorities to turn their attention to providing a transparent account on the RM2.6 billion donation received by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in 2013.

"(Nur Jazlan) should not take the easy way out by claiming the authorities have investigated the matter or that the attorney-general has cleared the PM as such explanation lacks credibility," he said.
Paulsen also called on Nur Jazlan to explain the alleged financial assistance sought from China with regard to 1MDB, as reported by the UK's Financial Times yesterday.

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