Saturday, July 17, 2010

Freedom of Information ( State of Selangor )Enactment 2010 Bill

I’m in the inquisitive mood. Being a layman in things law, legal and political, I put myself in ‘a wanting-to-know-more mode’ about the Freedom of Information ( State of Selangor ) Enactment 2010 Bill. The Bill was tabled in the Selangor State Assembly at its sitting on July 14, 2010 ( 3 days ago)

What does it entail. How will it be beneficial to a law abiding citizen like you and me? Let us see.

For a start, it is a piece of legislation making its appearance for the first time here (whereas more than 80 countries have already done so) The reason given by the Selangor Pakatan in wanting the legislation, ‘ is to improve the administration of the state, as a transparent government will be more efficient and responsible’.

Well and good! I like that. Furthermore, ‘ it will more than help stamp out corruption or intended corruption ( before anyone gets some funny ideas to indulge in one) and boost accountability.

As a rejoinder, however, the Pakatan state government stated its limits, that ‘ it applies only to the state government and their subsidiary departments ‘ This means federal-controlled departments do not come under its purview but under the OSA as it is now.

At least we are clear on one point even though it was superfluous for them to even mention it, they should know their limits. Maybe it was more to clarify and to dispel the feeling that the proposed enactment was not prompted by any ulterior motives.

If we are curious to know about the ‘hows and the whats’ of the state government how do we go about it?

It is simple enough. Anyone can do it. All we need to do is to apply to the information officers based in each department. They must respond within 30 days ( or within 7 days for urgent cases). All applications must state the reasons and purpose obviously and a small fee may be charged.

When is it possible to do this? Not immediately as there is a process it’ll have to go through before it becomes law ie

1. It will be tabled for the First and Second Readings in this July 2010 sitting.
2. Public consultation ( feedback from the public), research and study would be through a Select Committee
3. The Select Committee would then table its findings and recommendations to the state Assembly sometime in April 2011 for its Third Reading.

The final Bill then would have the ideal inputs of the executive, legislative and the people of Selangor.

This is great. Seen positively, at least we are assured that we can have access to information that can be made available within a stipulated time frame.

However knowing how politics work, what stops the Pakatan Selangor government to get one of its cronies to apply for info, just so to open the can of worms ( on what it perceived were wrong-doings of the previous BN government) The Pakatan Selangor government is protected by this piece of legislation, where ostensibly it is done with good intentions.

Since they are running the state now and they have access to sensitive information it is political survival to bring out the ‘shit’ with gusto and work out a frenzy against YB Khir Toyo right up to the impending G13.

This ability, I anticipate would be exploited to the fullest by the MB, YB Khalid Ibrahim with relish and glee in the 2nd half of 2011.

Even though this is negative thinking on my part, I’m sure it will happen ( with a lot of ‘dirt’ dug up from both sides of the political divide eventually )

We’ll see some fun, definitely!


abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Hank,
The least we can do is give the MB a chance to get the Enactment gazetted and implement it. When Tun Suffian was still alive he urged the Fed Govt to adopt the Law as he saw many things being hushed up for the benefit of a few. Good governance as Stuart Mill saw is " The Greatest Good for The Greatest Number".

kaykuala said...

Dear Hal,
I'm all for it. Selangor is the first and only state which has taken this bold step towards more transparency. We'll support it . On paper it looks good.

Al-Manar said...

I am all for transparency provided there is a gurantee that it will not be used to bare another Muslim.

kaykuala said...

Dear Pak Cik,
That's what we pray for and what it should be. Guarantee? Am not so sure. Politics knows no bounds, that I'm sure.

norzah said...

Thanks for drawing our attention to a very significant and controversial move made by the Selangor State Government to promote freedom of information, Akhi Hank. Articla 10 of the Fed. Constituion guarantees freedom of speech and expression but we have loads of laws and regulations rendering it inconsequential. We have the Sedition Act, the Internal Security Act. the Printingg Presses and Publishing Act of 1984 and the famous (or infamous) Official Secret Act of 1972, all of which make freedom of information a farce. The Press Freedom Index for 2007 listed Malaysia as no.124 out of 169 countries nd the G;obal Press Freedom placed Malaysia at no. 141 out of 195 countries.

So, Akhi, this daring effort by the Sel State Govt is very interesting. But to have one information officer in every dept in the state, will ensure that Pakatan can dig up any information it wants and use it to its own advantage. It can open the pendora's box on Barisan. Khir Toyo will be shivering in his pants it the Bill goes thru. Racial issues might be exploited to the full leading us to another 3rd May. I hope Khalid Ibrahim knows what he is going in for.

kaykuala said...

Akhi Norzah,
Absolutely! I think the Pakatan Selangor must have discovered a lot and they are making sure the instrument is ready to create wonders in time for GE13. They can now circumvent the other legislations as you had painstakingly listed and open the Pandora's Box. It gets frightening to anticipate the worst and the moment it starts it is difficult to hold back. I just shudder to think about it!