PETALING JAYA: The legal affairs division in the Prime Minister’s Department is in the final stages of completing policy research for the drafting of a Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, says deputy law and institutional reform minister Ramkarpal Singh.
Ramkarpal said the department organised a programme today to engage with the enforcement, security and defence agencies on the legislation.
He said the objective of the programme was to clarify the implications of the FOI legislation with these agencies.
“It was also to facilitate discussion among government agencies and obtain their views related to the drafting of the bill,” he said in a statement.
Ramkarpal said the department would obtain additional input on questions related to the limitations and advantages of enacting the FOI law, the challenges in implementation, and whether it would contradict the Official Secrets Act or similar Acts.
“The government is also examining a proposal to establish an information commission as an independent watchdog responsible for regulating FOI, hearing appeals, and ensuring compliance with the Act,” Ramkarpal said.
He said that in principle, all government agencies agreed that FOI would benefit vulnerable groups and have positive impact on socio-economic development.
He also said the government would need to continue holding engagement sessions with stakeholders to ensure no party was excluded.
“This study must take into account the government’s current policy as well as existing laws. It also needs to look at the best practices of legal models in other countries,” he said.
On July 11, 2018, the Cabinet agreed to enact the FOI law at the federal level.
The Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4) had questioned earlier when the government planned to enact the FOI legislation.
It noted that then law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had confirmed that discussions on the proposed law had been completed and that recommendations would be presented to Putrajaya “soon”.
C4 said an FOI Act would ensure government institutions provided information to citizens when requested, adding that this was a matter listed under Malaysia’s National Anti-Corruption Plan.