PETALING JAYA: A think tank today voiced concern over the government’s announcement that the report by the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) will remain under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) said the CEP’s findings should have been made public from the start.
“The CEP was formed with the purpose of discussing national issues and providing recommendations to the government,” IDEAS senior executive (democracy and governance) Aira Azhari said.
“The CEP held meetings with various academics, NGOs and government officials throughout its tenure, and Malaysians are entitled to know the outcome of these meetings.”
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, who made the statement in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, said the report would remain under the OSA as it contains confidential information.
CEP member KS Jomo had also said that the report should not be made public as it contains sensitive information that could be abused.
However, Aira suggested that the government enlighten the people on “what exactly in the report we shouldn’t know”.
“After all, any genuinely confidential information can be redacted,” she added in a statement.
She also expressed concern over the use of the OSA, calling it a “worrying development in Malaysia Baru”.
“One of the core promises in the Buku Harapan is to review the OSA,” she said.
“Not only is this a step backwards in the implementation of this promise, the use of the OSA to exclude the public from legitimate debate about Malaysia’s future direction is tantamount to not trusting Malaysians with the information we need to bring the political debate to a higher level.”
Urging the government not to repeat the mistakes of the past, she said it must not allow its commitment to transparency and accountability to be further questioned by the people.
“We urge the government to stay true to its promises, and commit to enacting a Freedom of Information Act, as stipulated in both the Buku Harapan and the National Anti-Corruption Plan 2019-2023.”