December 08, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — Putrajaya should consider repealing the Official Secrets Act (OSA) to fight corruption and enable good governance, former minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah today said.
Tengku Razaleigh, popularly known as Ku Li, said that Malaysians who gave information on alleged wrongdoings should be protected instead of punished, adding that this is "consistent with the idea of good governance."
He said Malaysia should stop using the OSA, which prohibits the disclosure and circulation of government secrets, against those who bring the public's attention to a scandalous wrongdoing.
"Specifically, it is time we seriously thought about repealing the Official Secrets Act. At the very least, the OSA should be reviewed.
"Its existence is akin to having the sword of Damocles swinging above the people's necks that instil fear into them," Tengku Razaleigh (picture) said at the 78th Rotary International District 3300 conference in Petaling Jaya earlier today.
A copy of the speech, titled "Leadership in Challenging Times" was made available to The Malaysian Insider.
The Kelantan prince who is also a federal lawmaker said the OSA's legal provision of jail sentence for those who go against the decades-old law by disclosing state secrets "must be done away with in the name of justice".
He said the public should be legally protected from being charged in court for trying to access information, "even if that piece of information embarrasses the government of the day".
"Only in this way could transparence and good governance be exercised, and excesses in the action of the authority be checked and eliminated."
Earlier on, he said the government's practice of "shooting the messenger" to reduce embarassment was "neither right nor honourable" and should be stopped.
Tengku Razaleigh, who is also Gua Musang MP, proposed that Malaysia sets up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to tackle corruption.
The commission must have the status of a court of law to give it "enough bite" on those who are corrupt, he said.
The commission should also be empowered to grant amnesty to those who own up during a "grace period" to amassing wealth through corrupt ways and abuse of power.
"Upon coming into force, the commission could, for instance, declare a grace period of, say, six or 12 months or such other reasonable period to allow abusers to come clean and make amends for their misdeeds," Tengku Razaleigh said.
No action will be taken during the grace period, but the full force of the law will be applied if the declarant was later found to have lied, he added.
A corrupt person taking advantage of this amnesty would need to go through rehabilitation, while both givers and takers of bribes will need to declare that they will not practise corruption again and express regret for having indulged in it.
Earlier in his speech, the Umno MP had noted that the younger generation appear to be disillusioned over many things including cronyism, nepotism, corruption, and the lack of business opportunities for those without political connections.