Make Johor hospital fire findings public, says G25

A committee was set up after a disastrous fire at Hospital Sultanah Aminah in Johor in 2016, which claimed six lives and left many injured.

PETALING JAYA: The G25 group of former senior civil servants has hit out at Putrajaya for classifying the findings of two government-appointed committees, including one on a deadly fire in a Johor hospital, under the Official Secrets Act.

In expressing its disappointment, the group said two of its members were involved in the committees and have been left “highly frustrated” that the reports submitted to the Cabinet months ago were still in cold storage.

One report, it said, was a probe by an independent committee into the Hospital Sultanah Aminah tragedy in 2016, which claimed six lives and left many injured.

The committee, it said, found serious weaknesses on budgetary allocations and operating procedures related to safety measures and administrative responsibility. The committee also found breaches of the relevant laws.

Another committee, established in October last year, looked into the management of foreign workers. It heard complaints about abuse of powers and corruption.

“Both reports are not related to national security and therefore should not be classified under the Official Secrets Act and hidden from the public,” it said in a statement.

G25 said in both reports, the committees made recommendations for improvements at the policy-making level and for ministries to give clear directions and sufficient resources to the operational and enforcement staff.

The reports also focussed on accountability and internal controls to prevent confusion in implementation and to close loopholes to prevent individuals from passing the buck.

“Both committees recommended that their respective reports be made public.”

The findings and recommendations of the investigative reports, G25 said, should be brought into the open for the public to know what actually happened, the mistakes that were made and the lessons that the country could learn. This could prevent future disasters and abuse of power from happening again.

“In most democracies, such reports would be tabled in Parliament for scrutiny and debate at the parliamentary select committee level.”

G25 also urged the government to make public the reports of the Council of Eminent Persons Institutional Reforms Committee and the committee established by the Rulers Council on the Administration of Islam in the Federal Territory.

These committees, it said, were set up after the ruling coalition came into power to gather the views of civil society, including G25, and provide input for the reform agenda.

“These reports should also be tabled and discussed in Parliament to make the public aware of the issues confronting the country.”