“Regularly invoking the OSA leads to the public perception of a Government that is unwilling to stand by its call for accountability, transparency and integrity.”- Tricia Yeoh, CPPS
Use of Official Secrets Act against Concession Documents
CENTRE FOR PUBLIC POLICY STUDIES PRESS STATEMENT
The Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) would like to express its disappointment with the government for invoking the Official Secrets Act (OSA) to investigate four opposition leaders for making available to the public a toll concession agreement that directly affects the public interest.
The CPPS would like to point out that the OSA – in its present form – is a carry over of a restrictive piece of colonial legislation that was based on the British Official Secrets Act of 1911 and was initially enacted to prevent the flow of information to foreign agents that might threaten national security. It is time for a review of this regulation especially since the Act is now being used for purposes
that have little or nothing to do with the safety or interests of our country.
Not only do toll concession agreements between the Government and private companies have little or no connection with national security but it can be said that such information is important for public knowledge as it relates directly to daily economic needs. In fact making such information widely available to the public would better serve the interests of our citizenry and country, and leads to
no security implications whatsoever.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has repeatedly reminded civil servants to carry out their tasks with accountability and transparency to ensure that the people will not have negative perceptions of the government. The best way to ensure public accountability is to make as much information available as possible. Regularly invoking the OSA leads to the public perception of a Government that is unwilling to stand by its call for accountability, transparency and integrity.
Senior Research Analyst
Centre for Public Policy Studies