50 NGOs want govt to make CEP report public

Council of Eminent Persons chairman Daim Zainuddin and other members of the CEP at a press conference last August. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Fifty NGOs have come together to call for the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) report to be made public instead of placing it under the “repressive” Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA).

The civil society groups urged Putrajaya not to renege on its promises, saying placing the CEP report under OSA meant it was hiding something and avoiding accountability.

“The fact that a Pakatan Harapan (PH) deputy minister is justifying its move to keep secret a report that was crafted for the very purpose of aiding in the reform process, rings alarm bells for civil society about this government’s commitment to reform,” they said in the statement.

Reminding PH that reform was its “bedrock” leading to the last general election, the NGOs said OSA was a repressive law which needed to be reviewed.

“The OSA is a deeply flawed law that has been misused and abused to hide criminal acts and government misconduct.

“It has been used to classify all manner of documents secret, including highway and water concession agreements, city council minutes and the air pollutant index,” the statement said.

It said sensitive financial and confidential information could be redacted if necessary.

The groups also called for the release of the Institutional Reforms Committee report and the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act.

“Information of interest to the nation should be freely available and accessible to everyone,” they said.

Yesterday, The Star reported CEP chairman Daim Zainuddin as saying that he was for the report to be released to the public so it could be debated.

However, the former finance minister said it was up to Putrajaya to make the document public.