No leaks please, we’re Malaysians

We’ve been here before, but some politicians are still adamant that Malaysians should still linger in this tired ideological terrain and cling to the old paradigm even after March 8.

 

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator T. Murugiah warned civil servants against leaking secret documents, ‘regardless of their positions’.

 

In yesterday’s report in the NST:

 

“As government servants, they must walk a fine line between information exchange and information protection. Protect the documents or assets with a sense of mission and treat them like your own,” he (Murugiah) said at the opening of a protection security convention here.

 

Civil servants who leaked official documents risked losing their jobs. “If there is sufficient proof, they can be charged under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).”

 

Other Malaysians have moved on, emphasised on the importance of transparency, accountability and good governance, and have called on the government to institute several media reforms including the liberalisation of the mainstream media, the repeal of the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the OSA, and the enactment of Freedom of Information Act.

 

Civil society groups have long struggled to widen the democratic space in our society, the latest of which is the campaign initiated by Benar, CIJ, All Blogs and WAMI to present a memorandum on media freedom to the authorities.

 

That is why this undue emphasis by Murugiah on ‘protecting’ government documents appears quite misplaced and even regressive.

 

Perhaps de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim was right. At a meeting with journalists and bloggers at the National Press Club recently, he said, if we may paraphrase him: don’t assume all ministers are reasonable. See here.

 

The statement issued by Murugiah is unreasonable and even contradictory to the reforms promised by Zaid especially when there seemed to be no attempt at differentiating the various official secrets as exemplified by Murugiah’s assertion here: ‘… threats against official information could be in various forms and likened leaking government secret documents to an act of espionage, subversion and terrorism.’  

 

Surely one needs to distinguish secret documents that have implications on military strategy or national security from those that should be public knowledge. How does a contract on, say, building a highway threaten the very security of the nation? Will our national military defence become compromised if people ask the government for documents pertaining to, for example, a contract to construct a government building that leaks upon completion?

 

Indeed, to confuse the two different sets of government documents can be construed as trying to subvert the intelligence of the ordinary Malaysians.

 

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4 Responses to “No leaks please, we’re Malaysians”


  1. 1 Ahmad 18 June 2008 at 10:44 am

    This Senator T.Murugiah is appointed by PM and not by Malaysian people during GE12. Please be aware that u did not even contest in the last GE.
    Is he trying to threaten public servants?
    We, the people of Malaysia, demand transparency, accountablity and good governance.
    Now let’s do it.

  2. 2 Pengundi Senyap 18 June 2008 at 10:45 am

    Good articles.
    This T. Murugiah may be first time in public office.

  3. 3 jungleboy 18 June 2008 at 12:24 pm

    there is a common perception of bn minister that if you shake the shit out of them, there are no more nutrients left so much so that even vultures will not eat the dead body

  4. 4 susan loone 18 June 2008 at 1:25 pm

    No bocor, you mean. That can only happen in Parliament 🙂


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