Freedom of info? Need to strike balance between public and private interest, says law minister

Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan. -filepic

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is prepared to consider enacting a Freedom of Information Act in order to give better protection but also strike a balance between private and public interest, Parliament was told.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said the government from time to time will review existing legislation, including the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972, to ensure all parties will be protected.

“It is important because when we enact a certain law, surely there is an intention of legislation.

“I also have to admit that the interest of the public is important.

“We have to find a balance between public and private interest within the country and community.

“Based on that reason, the government has no problems especially when there is feedback by civil society on improving current laws, including the aspect of whistleblowing, ” he said in reply to a supplementary question from R. Sivarasa (PH-Sungai Buloh) during Minister’s Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (Dec 2).

Sivarasa had asked the government whether it has any intention of enacting a Freedom of Information Act to replace the OSA.

Sivarasa had asked the government whether it has any intention of enacting a Freedom of Information Act and to replace the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010.

To the initial question, the de facto law minister said currently, protection is given to whistleblowers under the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, which was enforced since December 2010.

"The objective of the Act is to fight corruption and misconduct in the public and private sector. It is also to facilitate and engage the public to expose such acts.

"The Act also gives protection in the form of confidentiality of information, immunity from civil or criminal action as well as detrimental action being taken against them," he said.

It also gives power to the enforcement agencies to start a probe against improper conduct and detrimental action, added Takiyuddin.

“The scope of the implementation of the Act involves the private and public sector as outlined under Section 2 of the Act.

“The protection given to the whistleblower is through various enforcement agencies stated in the Act, ” he said.

Takiyuddin added that these enforcement agencies include the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Immigration Department, Road Transport Department, police, and Customs Department.

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