On 23 January, ARTICLE 19 and 9 human rights NGOs working on freedom of expression submitted a memorandum to Azalina Othman, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) during the consultation meeting on the Right to Information Bill.
The memorandum addresses key legislative aspects of the RTI bill and proposed amendments to the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA). The 10 groups in civil society commend the government’s steps towards enacting an RTI law and amending the OSA. The document emphasises the significance of aligning laws with international standards, specifically highlighting issues with the OSA’s culture of secrecy, broad executive powers, and lack of accountability.
The memorandum proposes reforms to Section 203A of the Penal Code and the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (PDPA), outlining limitations and suggesting amendments for enhanced effectiveness. It scrutinizes the PDPA’s limited application, absence of mandatory data breach notifications, and challenges to the Commissioner’s independence. Furthermore, the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 is analyzed, identifying issues related to legal protection, disclosure limitations, and circumstances for protection revocation.
This document urges the State to take decisive actions, including the establishment of a Steering Committee for collaborative drafting, a clear timeline for aligning laws with the RTI federal legislation, and a commitment to international standards. The recommendation underscores the importance of critical adjustments to institutional structures, proactive disclosure policies, and open government data practices to ensure a well-resourced and monitored RTI implementation in Malaysia.
For more information
Nalini Elumalai, Senior Malaysia Program Officer, ARTICLE 19, [email protected]