Govt to enact Freedom of Information Act to give public greater access: PM

Govt to enact Freedom of Information Act to give public greater access: PM

The legislation is intended to provide clear parameters and guidelines on access to government materials

KUALA LUMPUR – Putrajaya is going ahead with the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act which would have clear parameters and guidelines to provide ordinary citizens access to information related to public agencies and organisations, and various arms of the government.

The Special Committee Meeting of the National Administrative Cabinet (JKKTN), which had a session in a room in the Parliament complex today, resolved in principle that the legislation needs to be created and implemented.

The committee was previously known as the Cabinet Special Committee Meeting on Anti-Corruption (JKKMAR).

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who chaired the meeting, said later that they also discussed the country’s commitment to continue strengthening governance in the government administrative system, focusing on efforts to improve the sustainability of governance.

This would be especially achieved through two key shifts, namely the management of the institutional framework and corruption-related legislation, he stressed

“Among the important things that were decided or in principle agreed on together is the drafting of the Freedom of Information Act by creating parameters as well as clear guidelines to give access to the public to obtain information from public bodies and the government,” he said in a Facebook post.

The meeting also took note of eighteen resolutions stemming from two sessions of the 2022 and 2023 National Level Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption Research Conference, he added. The conference had put forward improvements from the legislative and policy standpoints regarding governance, integrity and anti-corruption.

“The government will continue to carry out efforts to strengthen good governance to support the development of the country in line with the desire to develop Madani Malaysia,” Anwar stressed.

Government Procurement Bill

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), in a statement, said that in line with the meeting’s decision regarding the Freedom of Information Act, the Official Secrets Act 1972 (Act 88) will also be amended accordingly.

It said this step was taken to ensure that the delivery of public services can be improved and to encourage the involvement of the people in the process of national policy formation.

It added that the meeting also agreed to enact the Government Procurement Bill to strengthen governance of government procurement by law with the aim of increasing the accountability of parties involved in the process.

“The meeting also agreed that the principle of transparency should be taken into account in the Government Procurement Bill that will be enacted by creating a complaint and objection mechanism in line with international standards,” the statement read further.

The PMO mentioned that in order to ensure that subsidiaries established under statutory bodies are administered more professionally based on good governance principles, supervision aspects need to be paid attention to.

“The meeting agreed that the existing and new legal framework should be examined towards the practice of good governance among entities that have government interests,” the statement read.

International Commission against the Death Penalty delegation

Anwar was earlier paid a courtesy visit by former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is now deputy speaker of the The Philippines’ House of Representatives, at the Parliament building.

Also present were Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said and deputy minister Ramkarpal Singh. Arroyo was leading a delegation from the International Commission against the Death Penalty (ICDP).

Anwar discussed with them efforts to achieve legal reforms in Malaysia, especially in his Unity Government’s feat in ending the mandatory death penalty.

“They expressed pride in Malaysia’s success in abolishing the (death) penalty,” he said, adding that they shared their views and experiences on similar efforts that have taken place around the world.

“I hope that full cooperation with ICDP will be able to continue in the future,” Anwar said.

– The Vibes, September 14, 2023

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