Azmin: Freedom of information a right, OSA a weapon of mass oppression

Press Release

25 July 2016

Azmin: Freedom of information a right, OSA a weapon of mass oppression
Shah Alam, 25 Julai – Menteri Besar Selangor Azmin Ali stressed that the announcement by the US Department of Justice concerning the 1MDB scandal is not just a civil suit but the culmination of investigations that have yielded a chain of criminal acts.

“They say we should not make a mountain out of a mole hill because this is merely a civil suit.

“Now, this is really an insult. The truth is that it is not just a civil suit. It points to two key words – corruption and kleptocracy,” said Azmin at the forum entitled “Zooming In – an honest assessment of Freedom of Information (FOI) in Malaysia” this morning at the Bangunan Annex, Selangor State Legislative Assembly.

In his keynote closing address, Azmin highlighted the disclosure of information should be the default rule and not the exception.

“Laws on freedom of information should be seen from the prism of public entitlement to access official information. Freedom of information is, therefore, a right and not merely a privilege,” he said.

Azmin pointed out that the perpetrators specifically named in the actions by the US Department of Justice are closely connected with those occupying the highest rungs of public office.

“And these are the very people who are the greatest stumbling block to our efforts to achieve greater transparency and freedom of information.

“If we had been able to put the freedom of information principle to actual use and set it to the real litmus test, surely, the shameful example of 1MDB and all its related fiascos would not have been allowed to drag on this far,” added Azmin.

Azmin also condemned how the Official Secrets Act facilitates corruption. “The law is being used by those in power to shield their wrongdoings from public scrutiny as well as a weapon of mass oppression.”

“We can no longer allow the authorities to keep on making excuses to justify the wall of silence on 1MDB. This has to stop,” he said.

Moving forward, Azmin said Selangor will need to boost the infrastructure of the state FOI Enactment, increase numbers of personnel, train information officers and allow for greater public participation in state affairs.

Azmin acknowledged there are calls for the amendment of restrictive provisions in the law such as third-party consent on issues related to them and is determined to make Selangor an exemplary state by safe guarding the people’s right to know.