PETALING JAYA: Civil societies want the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA) repealed to encourage transparency in the new government.
This, says the Governance, Integrity, Accountability and Transparency (GIAT), a coalition of seven civil society organisations, should be part of the institutional reform that should be carried out by the Government to ensure transparency in the country.
GIAT also wants the Government to table a Freedom of Information Bill as soon as possible, to show its commitment to transparency in line with the spirit of the “New Malaysia”.
The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) executive director Cynthia Gabriel said that there were many “problematic” laws that the new Government needed to repeal in order to encourage a Government that is accountable to the people, transparent and open.
“Laws such as the Anti-Fake News Act must be repealed. There are no two ways about it, we are not asking for a review, it must be repealed. We are also talking about the OSA, which has been used to hide government information and to keep (these) information away from the public,” said Gabriel during a press conference at C4’s headquarters here yesterday.
She said that GIAT was encouraged by Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo’s promise to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act 2018.
Gabriel said the new Government has shown readiness to clean up the system of governance in the country.
However, she said there needs to be a thorough “cleansing” in the system of governance in the country.
Sinar Project coordinator Khairil Yusof said GIAT felt that a Freedom of Information law was needed to compel the authorities to be transparent.
“With a law in place, we, as the public, will have a legal right to access information (related to Government activities).
“Currently, we don’t have legal recourse (so) they can say, ‘sorry, this is under OSA’, but if we have a Freedom of Information law, we actually will have a legal right to the information,” said Khairil.
GIAT is made up of C4, Sinar Project, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, MyPJ, Transparency International Malaysia, the Society for the Promotion of Human Rights and Friends of Kota Damansara.