All kinds of hurdles are placed in the way of releasing information under the Freedom of Information Enactment in Penang.
First, you have to apply. Fair enough.
Then you have to pay a fee. Not a small one either.
Then’s there’s a declaration form:
– the documents obtained under the FOI Enactment cannot be reproduced. (Say what?)
– the documents cannot be used in press conferences. “(This) is an offence as well.” (Huh?)
– the documents are only for the applicant’s own consumption.
– and the applicant has to state the purpose of obtaining the info? (Oh, puh-lease!)
If the documents are not meant for public consumption, what is the point of the FOI Enactment? The whole reason for FOI legislation is to allow access to information to protect the public interest. This access to info and contracts etc is especially crucial given the controversial mega projects in the pipeline in Penang.
But here, we are told that the documents obtained are only for private consumption. What a joke!
Wait, the joke’s not over. Here is the punch-line:
“The reason we do not allow documents of the State Government being reproduced, orally or written, is we do not want people to be confused…. People might misinterpret the documents,” said the state secretary.
Oh, I see, we are so easily confused and might misinterpret stuff…
I have a better idea. Just repeal the FOI Enactment and do away with this charade and all the nonsensical statements to justify the obstacles and limitations.