Breach of OSA if Hamzah keeps, shares govt secrets, experts say

14 Mar 2023 08:00am
SHAH ALAM - Opposition leader Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin can be jailed for one to seven years under Section 8, Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972 if he divulges secret government information.

This comes after the former home minister said he had access to documents about government leaders when he was the minister.

Sultan Zainal Abidin Universiti's Faculty of Law and International Relations Head, Dr Hussain Yusri Zawawi claimed that individuals who leak government secrets through Whatsapp, Facebook and other social media platforms violate the integrity of civil servants and their oath of secrecy.

"Malaysia has legal provisions that can be imposed on offenders base on the Public Officers Regulations 1993 or the Official Secrets Act 1972.

"Under Section 8 (1) of the act, it is an offence for those who are not authorised to possess or control any official secret, keep it, use it, communicate it or fail to keep it well.

"Any former minister needs to practice the principle of integrity and be trustworthy by not sharing any information or confidential government documents on social media," he said.

Hussain said the data should be handed over to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to be investigated and to let the court decide.

Legal expert, Professor Datuk Dr Abdul Halim Sidek said such statements will create speculations.

"Under the OSA, civil servants or anyone entrusted with secret documents cannot disclose to the public or divulge official secrets even if they no longer hold any position.
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"Even if there is a court case, only certain parties are given permission to see the file according to the court's order to defend themselves.

Halim who is also a Senior Fellow of the National Council of Professors said those in charge cannot divulge information on any government documents and property after finishing their service.

Meanwhile, Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim said Hamzah may have committed a legal offence if he still kept any sensitive documents.

Hassan who is also a lawyer said the files are the property of the government and cannot be taken out of the government building or copied in any way.

"In addition, ministers are also bound by their oath of office to maintain secrecy and their allegiance to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong," he said.