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Civil society groups call for review of Selangor state's freedom of information bill

(CIJ/IFEX) - The following is a statement from the Coalition of Good Governance (CGG), of which the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) - a Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) associate member based in Malaysia - is a member:

The Coalition of Good Governance (CGG) welcomes the Selangor State Government's reform initiative through the tabling of the Freedom of Information Enactment 2010, the first such legislation in Malaysia. This move constitutes a step in the right direction towards giving the people of Selangor the right to access public information.

The bill seeks to enhance disclosure of information for the public interest and to provide every individual with the opportunity to access information produced by every department of the state government. This approach radically shifts the state's obligations to the public and restricts its powers to limit what information can be accessed by the public, as is currently the practice under the Official Secrets Act 1972.

We are aware of the challenges from within the State Government as faced by the State EXCO in tabling this bill but at the same time we would like to congratulate them for pushing ahead despite the fact that the proposed legislation lacks sufficient particularity and legislative intent to be reflective of a true freedom of information law.

The proposed legislation has been severely watered down and while it is a freedom of information bill in name its substance needs to be reviewed. Civil society organisations have campaigned in the past for strong freedom of information legislation, which should cover several points.

Click here to read the full text

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