PETALING JAYA: The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) has questioned the delay in enacting a freedom of information (FoI) law.
It said there had been little progress to enact the law despite assurances from the government that the Official Secrets Act (OSA) will be repealed or amended.
“Since Perikatan Nasional (PN) wrested power from Pakatan Harapan in 2020, the administration had fiercely exhibited unbridled propensity for curbing freedom of expression,” it claimed in a statement.
“Not much has changed with Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s government either on its stance to ‘bestow’ Malaysia with the longstanding FoI law despite assurance from law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar on Nov 16 that the OSA will be reviewed.
“In its place are a list of harsh laws being imposed against the masses to curb hard-hitting facts from ever surfacing, including interpretation of facts reported by news organisations that the government deems ‘subversive’ or challenging its (political) security.”
C4 said there was a deliberate attempt to suppress vital information to protect the powers-that-be during times of crisis.
It also said the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 urgently needed reforms as one section put tipsters in jail for violating other laws.
If whistleblowers break laws such as the Official Secrets Act and the Banking and Financial Institutions Act 1989, they can go to jail, it said.
“This crushes the rights of any whistleblower who comes forward with any government revelation in the interest of the public.
“How then would whistleblowers come forward to lodge complaints involving enforcement officers or people in power if our public institutions are compromised in their integrity?”
The anti-corruption group said it was upset that authorities were targeting whistleblower site Edisi Siasat for its exposes on the purported abuse of power by enforcement officers.
It questioned how the whistleblower’s Twitter account, with more than 100,000 followers, was suspended amid “highly incriminating” data being shared there.
“To put the country back on track to flourish and prosper again, a war against corruption must be waged.
“And, whether an FoI Act is going to materialise in Malaysia or not would depend on the will of the political powers-that-be because, ultimately, transparency through the freedom of information is the weapon we have to use to win that war.”