Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) Calls for curbs on the use of Official Secrecy legislation to stifle public debate and enquiry
TI-M is deeply concerned by the police action to investigate alleged breach of official secrecy on the part of a few politicians in connection with the toll concessionaire agreements. We need to understand the message instead of prosecuting the messenger. The crux of the issue is that the Government must take heed of the message instead of going after the “messengers”.
The toll concessions classified as official secrets go against the very grain of accountability and transparency. Clearly, the message contained in the toll concessions is not against national security and national interests particularly when concerned citizen groups to want to probe into such patronage deals that are shrouded in secrecy. Affecting as these agreements do, public funds and consumers’ interests, surely the people have a fundamental right to question how taxpayers’ funds are being utilized.
The classification of such information as “official secrets” seems to go counter to principles of transparency, accountability and good governance. Good public delivery system is a top priority of this administration and can only come about with accountability and transparency. If government leaders only paid ‘lip service’ to such important promises, will it surprise us if civil servants also similarly paid ‘lip service’ to promised improvements to the public delivery system?
Whistle blowers who highlight weaknesses and abuses in public policy and government dealing should be protected instead of being investigated and possibly prosecuted. It is time for the Government to take heed of critique and constructively build upon the strengths and learn from the weaknesses of the past and present to build a progressive future for tomorrow. We can only learn from the messages of our weaknesses and not just listen to the praises of our strength.
Tan Sri (Dr) Ramon V. Navaratnam
Transparency International – Malaysia