PM: Freedom of Information Act still being studied

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is actively studying the formulation of the Freedom of Information Act and requires more time, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

Pakatan Harapan’s 14th general election manifesto had pledged to introduce such an act and review the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, the Official Secrets Act 1972 and the Witness Protection Act 2009.

Mahathir said drafting the new act required plenty of research on whether it would contravene any existing laws, such as the controversial Official Secrets Act, which has been put under review by his government.

The Langkawi MP said the act should only be implemented after a comprehensive and holistic study, in accordance with benchmarks set by other states with similar legislation, such as Selangor and Penang, which both have a version of the act now.

“Currently, there are two state enactments on freedom of information, namely the Freedom of Information (Selangor) Enactment 2011 (Enactment 8) and the Penang Freedom of Information Enactment 2010 (Enactment 16),” Mahathir said in a parliamentary written reply to Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng today.

The DAP backbencher had asked whether the federal government planned to enact new laws such as the Freedom of Information Act to put to rest any fears of the people being sued for defamation by the administration in power.

Mahathir said there was a need to consult the communications and multimedia ministry, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the National Security Council on this matter.

“This session will also involve relevant media and NGOs,” Mahathir said.

In August, Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar was reported as saying the government was committed to implementing the Freedom of Information Act in stages.

She said several parliamentary select committees would be set up before it is finally enacted.