July 14, 2010

Selangor Fulfills Commitment on Right to Information

Posted in Selangor, The Cause at 9:55 pm by egalitaria

Download the FOI Draft Enactment HERE.

The idea for a Freedom of Information Act is not a new one. Many a conference and public forum has called for such an enactment even prior to the March 8th General Election. In other countries, it varies from being known as a “Freedom of Information” to a “Right to Information” Act (the latter is true for countries in India). When Pakatan Rakyat stepped into power in Selangor, this was a prime opportunity for the state government to put into practice what it has always called for at the Federal level.

The process was not necessarily an easy or a direct one. The enactment was drafted by several parties, and went under the scrutiny of the State Legal Advisor in its final stages. The issue of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and how that would work was one issue on everyone’s minds. Administratively, which agencies would be covered? What would the mechanisms be? Who makes the decisions? All these questions are hopefully answered in the draft enactment…

Which has been finally tabled for first and second reading TODAY at the Selangor State Legislative Assembly! Let today be a historic day, with an unprecedented enactment, either at the State or Federal levels. The next step is for the newly elected Select Committee (chaired by YB Saari Sungib) to decide on how to proceed, which would include several rounds of public consultation. After collating the feedback and having various (thorough I am sure) discussions, table it for the third and final reading.

We must ensure that the implementation of this FOI enactment takes place efficiently, lest it becomes a mere justification for living up to our own self-imposed standards of transparency and public accountability. Officers with traditional and conservative views will need to be given training and exposure, to operate on the principle of information availability with only narrow exceptions.

We should also now include as a clarion call for the Federal Government to take up the initiative. In the very least, some reform must be done to address the archaic laws of the OSA, Printing Presses and Publications Act, and a slew of other Acts which have continuously served to restrict and muzzle freedom of expression and of media.

Thanks to YB Elizabeth Wong (Chair of the FOI Taskforce) and team, they’ve compiled the Media Reports below here. Enjoy:

S’gor tables ground-breaking FOI Bill (Malaysiakini)
Enakmen kebebasan maklumat (Malaysiakini)
‘Bil kebebasan maklumat ‘ceroboh’ perlembagaan’ (Malaysiakini)
Selangor merakyatkan informasi (Malaysiakini)
BN says FOI encroaching on Federal powers (TheEdge)
Amid media clampdown, S’gor tables FOI Bill (Malaysia Chronicle)
巫统议员批雪资讯自由法违宪 黄洁冰:阳光是最好的消毒剂 (Malaysiakini)
雪政府提呈资讯自由法 决策与行事摊在阳光下 (merdekareview)
指大臣有解密权无必要立法 国阵:雪州资讯自由法违宪 (merdekareview)
《资讯自由法令》让人民监督政府 拯救被腐蚀的机制 (Therocknews)
BN opposition attacks Selangor’s Information bill (TheMalaysianInsider)

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