Repeal, not enhance OSA, press group tells AG

Source: The Malay Mail Online

OSA-222x300KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 — The Attorney-General should seek to repeal the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA) and replace it with a law allowing freedom of information, said the Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) today.

Responding to Tan Sri Mohd Apandi Ali’s proposal to amend to OSA to compel journalists to reveal their sources for leaked official secrets, the IoJ said whistleblowers and journalists should not be penalised for seeking to highlight issues that deserve public attention.

“The IoJ maintains that it is a journalist’s duty to protect the identity of a source as part of the universally accepted ethical practise of journalism, while at the same time paying heed to existing local laws,” the group said in a statement.

“The Institute is of the position that public interest, and ultimately national interests, would be better served by allowing public access to information through a Freedom of Information Act to replace the OSA.”

The group added that such a law would better ensure that elected officials are held accountable and bound to the principles of transparency.

“While the Institute does not condone any act that would compromise the proper functioning of the government, it is at the same time apprehensive of any attempt to increase punitive measures against those seeking to reveal the truth on cases of public interest,” the group said.

Apandi was yesterday reported as saying that he will consider seeking an increase to the penalties available against those who leaked official secrets, including raising the sentences to life imprisonment and 10 strokes of the cane.

According to the Chinese language Sin Chew Daily, Apandi said the proposed amendments to the Official Secrets Act will also include journalists who refuse to identify the sources of the leaked information.

The AG also said that there is no right to information according to the Federal Constitution.


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