Freedom of Information Act in place of Official Secrets Act: Dr Mahathir

18 Jul 2019 / 18:12 H.

PUTRAJAYA: PUTRAJAYA: The Freedom of Information Act will be drawn up to replace the Official Secrets Act 1972, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said a Cabinet Special Committee on Anti-Corruption which met today had agreed in principle that sufficient time must be given to the process of drawing up the law.

“This is to allow for sufficient engagement and outreach sessions with the public,” he said in a press conference held after chairing the meeting here today.

Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Bakar and Director-General of the Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC), Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed.

Mahathir said the meeting also discussed the scope of the Government Procurement Act which would be drawn up by the Finance Ministry.

“The Bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament in the middle of 2020,” he said.

On another matter, he said plans to re-evaluate the role of political secretaries were was also discussed.

“Under the previous government, they had abused their position. They were found to have given out contracts although this was not their role, he said. “The task of a political secretary is to be a go-between for ministers when dealing with his constituents.”

Mahathir said the government also planned to amend the Audit Act 1957 to ensure the independence of the National Audit Department and the Auditor-General.

He said although the Prime Minister’s Office had oversight of the department it must be free to act.

On the Public Complaints Bureau, he said its smart response application would enable complainants to upload a 150-second video, a 1,200-second audio recording, a 15MB document and 25 pictures taken on smartphones.

“The system will inform the complaint about the progress of the case and the messenger system will permit the complainant to communicate with the investigating officer,” he added.

Mahathir said the meeting also discussed five proposals made by the Securities Commission (SC) to boost corporate governance practices in the capital market to curb corruption and fraud.

“The meeting agreed in principle with several proposals submitted by the SC which will be discussed by the National Debt Management Committee,” he said.

The prime minister said the Cabinet Special Committee on Anti-Corruption was also informed of the findings of the National Anti-Corruption Committee Meeting that there was a need to increase the awareness and anti-corruption training given to civil servants.

He said this include reviving the Integrity Management Module and empowering the integrity units in public agencies.

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