Tuesday, February 13, 2007

OSA Should Be Revised Or Replaced With Information Act, Says Transparency International.

The Government should revise the Official Secrets Act (OSA) or replace it with Information Act, Transparency International Malaysia President Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said Tuesday.

Since the OSA did not indicate specific criteria that came under it, agreements between the government and private sector such as toll concession agreements ending up being categorised as OSA, he said.

"When a document is under OSA, everything becomes secret. It (government) should indicate specific cases like security, intelligence and related areas that need to be protected for public interests," he told Bernama at the World Ethics and Transparency Forum.

Ramon said by reviewing OSA or replacing it with Information Act, it would show greater emphasis on transparency and accountability by the government. With the Information Act, he said, the government would be able to determine the category of classified documents that should come under it. "We can learn from models all around the world, many other countries have such Information Act. This Act will encourage maximum freedom of information and access to information," he said.

He said concession agreements for privatised expressways should not have come under OSA as the public have a right to know as taxpayers.

Asked on Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu's move to get Cabinet's approval to declassify the concession agreements, Ramon said: "If the Cabinet decides to make the concession agreements public, it will raise the public confidence and the government's integrity. We hope the Cabinet will see the merit of making it public to enhance accountability," he added.

***** This claim by Samy Vellu that Cabinet approval is being sought to declassify documents is just another BN sandiwara. When it is the Cabinet which benefits most by hiding outrageous acts of omission and commission from the people, ostensibly on grounds of security, why should they even lift a finger to declassify anything, including the plans to the Cabinet toilet?

The only security that is being preserved by invoking the OSA to avoid revealing documents such as the toll
concession agreements, is the future political security of our pemimpin. I'm sure that after a bit of playacting, the Cabinet will dump the whole problem on the Attorney-General and cite him as the obstacle for not being more 'transparent.' And what can the poor A-G do? After all he's only a civil servant who has much power but can't use it without 'Cabinet approval.' Oh boy, yet another sandiwara is about to start.
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