PM must introduce Right to Information law to democratise M’sia

Right To Know Day 2011 posterMedia release (28 Sept 2011)

Right to Know Day, which falls on 28 September annually, is an occasion to promote access to information as a basic human right, as spelt out in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This right has practical, democratic applications, too. A Right to Information (RTI) legislation is one of the necessary checks and balances to keep government clean and accountable to the rakyat. It also levels the playing field for businesses, abolishing the culture of cronyism and nepotism.

Access to information is one of the basic building blocks of a democracy. It allows citizens to keep tabs of government dealings and decisions so that they can check that public interest is being served, as well as make good decisions themselves about their own lives.

This right is most crucial during elections, the crunch time for citizens to hold their representatives accountable for their actions in office and elect the best candidates who can best represent them. This means the media, a platform through which candidates’ credentials and manifestos can be shared, debated and exchanged, must be accessible to all parties and free from political manipulation.

Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) urges Prime Minister Najib Razak to introduce an RTI legislation at the federal level to replace the Official Secrets Act as the next step in his democratisation promise as announced in his eve of Malaysia Day speech. It is time to replace the culture of secrecy at the Federal level with a culture of openness to ensure RTI enactments in Selangor and (soon) Penang can play a positive role for residents of these two states, as well as to cater to growing public demands for transparency and accountability at all levels of governance.
Issued by Masjaliza Hamzah, CIJ executive officer

The Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ) is a non-profit organisation that aspires for a society that is democratic, just and free, where all peoples will enjoy free media and the freedom to express, seek and impart information.