FOI legislation reflects the fundamental premise that all information held by governments and governmental institutions is in principle public, and may only be withheld if there are legitimate reasons, such as privacy and security. The importance of this information is that the public will have the ability to scrutinise government actions, from how it spends tax money, to which companies receive contracts from the government. This transparency is a key factor in exposing corrupt and inefficient practices that can be hidden by the government.
However, with the existence of the Official Secrets Act 1972 and other secrecy laws, FOI has been extremely curtailed in Malaysia. These laws severely limit access to public information, and have previously been used to thwart investigations into cases such as 1MDB.
Despite the existence of FOI Enactments in Selangor and Penang, major legal reforms are needed to improve access to information. These must include the repeal of secrecy laws, and the enactment of laws which promote access to information.
December 02, 2020 (PN) R Sivarasa (PH-Sungai Buloh) asked in Parliament, whether the government is considering implementing the Freedom of Information Act and amend the Official Secrets Act (OSA) while protecting the country’s secrets? Sivarasa also said access to information under certain Acts was crucial in fighting corruption and abuse. De facto law minister Takiyuddin […]
July 15, 2020 (PN) In response to Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador’s reported remarks in the media today that warned police officers and staff not to reveal or share investigation reports to the public or post them on social media, or risk being investigated under the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA). He also said […]
November 28, 2019 (PH) The (late) de facto law minister of Pakatan Harapan, Liew Vui Keong, launched the country’s first National Stakeholders Consultation on the Right to Information Legislation forum organised by the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and the Coalition of CSOs on Freedom of Expression. Liew said the OSA would be repealed but […]
July 18, 2019 (PH) Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced that a Freedom of Information Act will be drawn up to replace the OSA in 2020. He said the Ninth Meeting of the Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption, which he chaired, had agreed in principle that sufficient time must be given to the process […]