A regional government in Malaysia became the first in the country to table a Freedom of Information (FOI) law, potentially joining more than 80 countries worldwide to introduce such a law. The legislation was tabled by the Federal Opposition party, Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Coalition) in Selangor on 14 July 2010 with the aim of promoting citizen’s rights to access to information and promote transparency and good governance. The tabling of the law is also a concerted effort by civil society groups in the state, led by the Centre for Independent Journalism as well as positive engagement with the regional government through a Task Force on Freedom of Information of the Coalition for Good Governance (CGG). The minister in charge, Elizabeth Wong, a human rights activist said in a media interview that it is the coalition’s promise to make governance transparent and Government accountable. Wong was reported as saying: “With that always in mind, decisions will be made with accountability in mind. “That is what the Mentri Besar [Chief Minister] is trying to do in the Exco [executive committee] and this Bill will standardise a culture of openness and transparency in all local councils and state agencies.” CGG task force head Gayathry Venkiteswaran congratulated the state for its initiatives and welcomed the forthcoming public consultation before the law is passed. However, the CGG is concerned about some of the provisions and will present their views and recommendations during the public consultation.
(report prepared by CIJ)