Right to Know in Malaysia

Did you know that as a citizen of a democratic nation, you have the Right to Know how your country is being governed? Did you know that Freedom of Information is a human right that every person possesses by virtue of being human?

Freedom of Information, as per the United Nations definition, is:

…the right to access information held by public bodies. It is an integral part of the fundamental right of freedom of expression, as recognized by Resolution 59 of the UN General Assembly adopted in 1946, as well as by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which states that the fundamental right of freedom of expression encompasses the freedom to “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

In Malaysia, legal guarantee of the Right to Know is limited to two states, Selangor & Penang, with its respective Freedom of Information Enactments (FOIE) – which remains obstructed by Federal level laws

The FOIEs in both states allows us to obtain most information that’s owned by the respective state governments, but the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972 invalidates the FOIEs jurisdiction as soon as the requested information involves that which is marked ‘Top Secret’, ‘Secret’, ‘Confidential’ or ‘Restricted’ under the OSA.

The lack of a federal-level FOI guarantee, legal provision, and its subsequent restraint over state-level FOIEs promotes secrecy in the federal level governments, which provides a conducive breeding ground for corruption.

Note: lifted from Right 2 Know Malaysia (R2Kmy) campaign jointly initiated by Sinar Project and Center to Combat Corruption and Croynism (C4) in 2016