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Malaysia approves Freedom of Information Act

Malaysia approves Freedom of Information Act

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Malaysia’s Special Cabinet Committee on National Governance (JKKTN) has approved the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act. This is as it looks to establish clear parameters for the Malaysian public’s access to information from the government and public bodies.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said that alongside public access to information, the cabinet also discussed the country’s commitment to strengthening the Malaysian government’s administrative system, inevitably focused on efforts to improve the sustainability of governance. This, he said, would be particularly through two main shifts, namely the governance of the institutional framework and corruption-related legislation.

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“Among the important matters decided or mutually agreed upon in principle is the drafting of the Freedom of Information Act by creating clear parameters and guidelines to give access to the public to obtain information from public bodies and the government,” he said.

Additionally, he said that the meeting also took note of the 18 resolutions resulting from the two sessions of the National Level Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption Research Conference in 2022 and 2023 which presented recommendations for improvement from a legal and policy perspective related to governance, integrity and anti-corruption.

“The government will continue to implement good governance empowerment efforts to support national development in line with the desire to develop a civilized Malaysia,” he concluded.

The Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is also doubling down on how news is disseminated in Malaysia. For instance, it has reinforced its role in regulating the communications and multimedia industry in Malaysia.

This was in response to several articles titled ‘MCMC must stop playing big brother’. In the articles, senior journalists called out the organisation for causing media curbs. MCMC said that the organisation is guided by the provisions of the Communications and Multimedia Act of 1998, which entrusts the commission to carry out its functions.

According to media reports, the senior journalists including Johan Jaaffar and A Kadir Jasin, former Bernama chairman Azman Ujang, former editors-in-chief of Bernama, Yong Soo Heong and Zakaria Wahab as well as veteran media activists Hussamuddin Yaacob, Chamil Wariya, and G Manimaran. It said that it strongly disapproves of any attempt to use government agencies like the MCMC to question, censor or block portals and online news content.

“One of MCMC’s primary legal duties is to ensure online platforms are not used for the purpose of committing the commission or attempted commission of any offence under the written laws of Malaysia,” the statement said. It added that it will take necessary actions to tackle issues such as the spread of false information, and offensive content as well as issues pertaining to defamation.

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