Freedom of Information Act in the works, says Azalina

KUALA LUMPUR: According to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform), Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (photo), work is now being done on the proposed Freedom of Information Act in Malaysia.

“The Legal Affairs Division is in the process of identifying parameters, implementation challenges and legislation that could conflict with the concept of freedom of information in order to introduce a comprehensive law that is suitable in Malaysia,” Azalina stated.

The Prime Minister’s Department oversees the division.

In order to make sure that the passage of the Freedom of Information Act and Act 88 complement one another, Azalina added that the government decided to revise the Official Secrets Act 1972 (Act 88).

“The purpose of amending Law 88 is to guarantee better public service delivery and more open and transparent access to genuine information by the people from the government.

In a Nov. 8 written parliamentary response, the minister stated, “This will indirectly facilitate Malaysians to participate more actively in the country’s policy-shaping process.”

When Lim Lip Eng (PH-Kepong) inquired about the anticipated introduction date of the freedom of information bill in Parliament, Azalina was answering.

According to Azalina, the proposed law would be passed in order to guarantee that information is shared for the public’s benefit and to give everyone the chance to seek information about any ministry, department, or agency.

According to her, the government’s decision was founded on the conclusions of 23 engagement sessions that the Legal Affairs Division had carried out in cooperation with academics, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and civil society organizations headed by the Center for Independent Journalism.

The Freedom of Information Law was approved in principle by the Cabinet Special Committee on National Governance, according to a statement made by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in September.