Minister confirms OSA will go but parts to live on in new info freedom law

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of legal affairs Datuk Liew Vui Keong speaks to reporters in Putrajaya November 27, 2019. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of legal affairs Datuk Liew Vui Keong speaks to reporters in Putrajaya November 27, 2019. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 27 — The Official Secrets Act (OSA) will be repealed but some of its vital functions will be incorporated into the proposed Freedom of Information Act, Datuk Liew Vui Keong said today.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department was clarifying remarks to the contrary by his deputy Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, who told Parliament earlier this month that the law was still needed to protect sensitive government information.

Hanipa also asserted that the OSA was viewed negatively only because it was abused during the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.

“OSA will go; however, some provisions from it will come into the Freedom of Information Act,” Liew said today.

“We need to retain some things in the OSA. Some we can’t disclose and some can go. Give us time to look into it as we need to study other countries who have experience in this.”

The minister overseeing legal affairs was speaking at a press conference after officiating the National Stakeholders Consultation on the Right to Information Legislation forum this morning.

The forum was organised by the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and the Coalition of CSOs on Freedom of Expression in collaboration with the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister's Department (BHEUU).

When asked about potential criticism for retaining aspects of the OSA, Liew said this was unavoidable with any significant legislation.

“Example, the IPCMC (Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission). We met with resistance from the ground and got the Select Committee to look into it.

It’s quite normal because such amendments can affect certain quarters,” he said.

In his opening speech, Liew said he will be working hard to uphold the electoral pledge made by Pakatan Harapan regarding the OSA.

“I must bring you to the pledge made in the 14th general election manifesto. In this context, the Cabinet had mandated me to work with my colleague Minister of Communication and Multimedia Gobind Singh Deo to develop this Act,” he said.

The Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister’s Department held several discussions as early as January with the agencies and state governments involved, including Selangor and Penang which have their own state Freedom of Information Enactment.

Related Articles