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ABIM Reiterates Call To Reform OSA 1972

Nov 14, 2016 Hit: 271
ABIM Reiterates Call To Reform OSA 1972

14th of November 2016 Muslim Youth Movement Malaysia (ABIM) refers to the case of Rafizi Ramli who was sentenced to 18-months in jail under the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA) for unauthorised possession and exposure of the confidential 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) audit report. ABIM strongly believes that the use of OSA 1972 is utterly irrelevant and major transformation has to be done to reform the legislation. After more than 40 years in existence, ABIM views the legislation as nothing more than a shield to bar the people from accessing any information relating to improper action or misconduct of the government. Worse still, the legal definition of official secrets itself is not precise. Section 2 of OSA 1972 defined official secret as “any document specified in the Schedule and any information and material relating thereto and includes any other official document, information and material as may be classified as “Top Secret”, “Secret”, “Confidential” or “Restricted”, as the case may be, by a Minister, the Menteri Besar or Chief Minister of a State or such public officer appointed under section 2B”. Instead of putting the limit only on the documents that would pose a serious and demonstrable risk to national security, the act stipulated a general term, reflecting that any document can be classified as secret. Furthermore, the classification of any document as secret can be made by the appointed public officer without any safeguard against unnecessary and improper classification as enshrined under section 16A of OSA 1972 Having used the OSA 1972, ABIM criticises it as contrary to the spirit of democracy where the government should be answerable to the people since the formation of that particular government is from the people’s choice. It is neither up the government to decide everything without any concern from the people, nor for the people to surrender everything to the government to decide whatever is deemed proper. In conjunction with current modern world moving towards openness, transparency, and accountability in the government affairs, ABIM against the use of the OSA 1972 to instil fear amongst the whistleblowers or general public who entitle for legal defences under Whistleblower Protection Act 2010. ABIM reiterates the call to amend the OSA and the amendment should be made to recognize the rights of a whistleblower to be protected from any criminal charge. Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz Secretary General

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