The government will draw up a Freedom of Information Act to replace the Official Secrets Act 1972, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He says the Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption, which he chaired, has agreed in principle that sufficient time must be given to the process of drafting the law.
The drafting process must focus on public engagement and sufficient outreach programmes must be held with the public, he says.
However, on July 16 Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin told Parliament the federal government is looking to amend the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA) to prevent the leak of state secrets.
He made the comments during Question Time saying the amendments are expected to be tabled next year.
Meanwhile, Malaysia is ranked first among Southeast Asian countries in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, says Dr Mahathir.
The index places Malaysia at 123 out of 145 countries in the world, he says.
This is Malaysia’s achievement as a result of the government commitment to the prevention of corruption, he says.
The commitment of the government of today in placing the prevention of corruption as a priority agenda has yielded results, Dr Mahathir told the media.
The Pakatan Harapan made it a pledge to introduce the Freedom of Information Act and review the OSA, along with the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 and the Witness Protection Act 2009.
On the other hand, a Muslim preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin who was released from jail after he was sentenced under the Sedition Act 1948 says the act should also be reviewed.
He called on Attorney-General Tommy Thomas to look into it before more people are victimised by the controversial law.
Wan Ji, currently appealing his own conviction under the security law, said a review was needed especially as Pakatan Harapan had promised to repeal the Sedition Act in its GE14 manifesto.
Before the Pakatan Harapan took over power last year, the preacher first sentenced to nine months’ jail on a 2014 sedition charge. The charge is related to a Facebook post about Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah of Selangor.
His sentence was enhanced to a year after the Shah Alam High Court allowed a cross-appeal by the prosecution.
Dr Mahathir has repeatedly said no Malaysians are above the law and no one should be harassed or jailed for their opinions about the royals or the government.