It is time for Malaysia 2.0 to have an Information Access Act!

It is time for Malaysia 2.0 to have an Information Access Act!

Opinion by Assoc Prof Col (Rtd) Dato’ Husin Jazri CISSP

Witnessing the recent election from Africa was full of suspense and excitement much more than a final soccer World Cup or Hidustani movies, as the election results had a deeper meaning to lives of citizen of Malaysia in years to come.

The strong urge to come home and vote was in me, but affordability becomes a major hurdle for us working abroad. Nevertheless, wind of change as is has come and this is what many Malaysians like me are looking forward to.

It is time for the government to have new bloods of leaderships and administration after 61 years with the Barisan Nasional. I feel joyous and truly blessed as Malaysian that our country’s democracy is proven to be alive and we as the rakyat have been allowed to exercise our rights to change government peaceful through the ballot box electoral process.

Malaysia can now stand tall having been able to show to the world, especially the developing world that a civilised governmental change process can take place peacefully in a democratically elected sphere, if there is a will among its citizens.

Kudos to Malaysia, setting to go into Vision 2020 very soon, with better good governance as promised, even though we know these are with tough challenges and political wills ahead.

Celebration aside as 100 days pledge is over, it is time to work hard and as fast we could, as the new government has only five years mandate to prove its worth before the rakyat, as the main stakeholder, decides again in the next election.

Witnessing the election process, one thing that comes into my mind, that is truly necessary, Malaysia badly needs a hybrid election mechanisms process, combining manual and online systems as practice in many countries including Africa where I currently reside.

We the rakyat needs an online voting system so badly, of course with its confidentiality, integrity, availability and transparent auditing features that can be easily verified. With this online and real-time mechanisms, rakyat can vote better from any place and anywhere within stipulated time period without much restriction and the need to go into the polling station physically.

Technology enables it with proven success, and it is just now left with us and the new government to have the new political will among newly elected legislators to move forward with it. Please help to simplify things for the rakyat, avoiding troubles of long queues of senior citizens and the scenario where OKUs and senior citizens being carried away to the polling stations truly saddened me, in this era of technology.

This brings me to the next important point as we now have a new government with an appetite of reforms agenda. I want to take this opportunity to persuade fellow Malaysian, especially the Honorable YAB Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad and his newly appointed Cabinet Ministers to consider balancing the Official Secret Act that was proven to be easily abusable by those in power with a new Access to Information Act for the rakyat to balance it, that mandate by law to provide rakyat of Malaysia to have access to government owned information openly and transparently, with the exception of genuine national security matters, such as military or police operational plan, border patrols, and of that sort.

To this, I truly hope that the new Prime Minister and the Minister of Communication and Multimedia can take a look at this suggestion, take the lead and help to move Malaysia forward in a truly democratic sphere, at the same level of other democratically forward looking countries.

With this Access to Information Act, rakyat can be assured that no information is intentionally hidden from them by the government of the day for political purposes or any other trivial matters, and as a result Malaysia will have a much more well informed and transparent knowledge society that decides based on facts presented to them, and based on best effort by those who owns public related information.

Becoming an informed citizens, Malaysia is surely going towards its Vision 2020 and set good example to the rest of the developing world, by embracing democracy in a transparent way with good governance as the way forward.

This move is complimentary to repulsing the Fake News Act that is not so favourable to the rakyat and media and in line with the United Nation Sustainability Development Goals No.16, among others include the Right of Access to Information. Why punish the rakyat with the Fake News Act or OSA and instead allow rakyat to have a participative and inclusive say in the government’s decision making.

To those who are not very familiar with the Access to Information Act, in brief, it is an abiding law that recognises that the government and its link agencies needs to be more proactive in information dissemination and its programme in touch with the people, demonstrating that its agenda is their agenda through Government information services and media liaison.

These requirements do not receive due attention in the government and government link companies and valid queries by citizens and media are often brushed aside by the respective agencies and organisations, resulting into nurturing lack of accountability and transparency, increase negative perception and biasness, possible corruption practices using blinded information as a strategic advantage over competitors, and more.

Let us together make Malaysia Great Again !

About the Author:

Professor Col (Rtd) Dato’ Husin Jazri CISSP is currently the Associate Professor in Computer Science and Informatics at the Namibia University of Science and Technology, Namibia, Africa specialising on cybersecurity and privacy issues. He has more than 30 years of cybersecurity experiences to date and was formerly working with the Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation, MIMOS Berhad, and the Ministry of Defence Malaysia, among others. He can be reached at [email protected]