Although many welcomed the Penang state government’s decision to enact a Freedom of Information Act, the release of a draft Bill has made a mockery of the people’s aspirations for more transparency and accountability.
Have a look at Sarajun Hoda’s analysis of the draft Bill on Aliran here:
The FOI Bill is surrounded by a million reasons stipulating why information ‘may’ not be given. Instead of asserting the opening up of access to information, it only speaks about conditions for not divulging information and even more excuses for impeding access. It finally sounds just as haughty, opaque and obfuscating as the Selangor Bill.
The killer blow, spotted by Sarajun, is chilling:
If the information accessed is used for a different reason and purpose, it will invite a fine up to RM50,000 and/or a jail term not exceeding two years. Is this chilling effect not deliberately designed to discourage potential applicants from trying to get information?
What kind of an FOI Bill is that? Is it just so that voters can be told Penang has an FOI Bill, which is all but meaningless? Better toss the whole thing in the waste-paper basket instead of taking Penangites for a ride.
Come on, surely Penang can do better than that. Come up with a draft that asserts and upholds the principle that freedom of information is a basic right.