Suaram applauds the Selangor state government for finally announcing that it will table the Freedom of Information (FOI) Enactment at the sitting of its state assembly from 12-16 July.
Suaram is further encouraged by the Selangor state government’s announcement that public feedback will be sought in the enactment of the FOI legislation. Suaram certainly hopes that the public consultation process would be a comprehensive, inclusive and meaningful one. On this note, Suaram will monitor to ensure that the Selangor state government obtains the views of all relevant stakeholders.
Suaram believes that the FOI enactment is a big step forward in the country’s democratisation process, allowing the public easy access to information that pertain to matters of public interest. This is indeed a positive development in a country where an endless list of information is kept secret under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972.
Furthermore, Suaram would like highlight the cases of misuse of public funds and misconduct in government projects which are yet to be answered as information pertaining to these cases is apparently classified as “secret” under the OSA. Among the higher profile cases include the Scorpene submarine deal by the the Defence Ministry (which was then led by current Prime Minister Najib Razak when the deal was made) and the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal in which the initial cost of the project (RM1.9 billion) ballooned to RM12.5 billion. These are merely two of the myriad of examples of misuse of public funds by the government. The government must be held accountable for all of these cases.
Finally, Suaram strongly calls on the Federal Government and all the other state governments to follow the Selangor state government’s initiative by enacting FOI legislations under their respective administrations. The Federal government should also stop enforcing the OSA and further repeal the law.
Suaram and other CSOs are willing to provide our expertise and cooperation to the Selangor state government in popularising the FOI enactment and gather public feedback on the legislation. At the same time, we are also committed to engage with and assist other state governments and the Federal government in enacting the FOI legislation.
7 July 2010