Friday, November 8, 2013

Putrajaya backtracks on 'secrecy clause' amendments

Putrajaya will not introduce any immediate amendments to the newly passed Section 203A of the Penal Code, which critics argue will discourage whistleblowers within the civil service.

NONESpeaking at forum on the ratification of international covenents at the Bar Council headquarters, de facto Law Minister Nancy Shukri (left) said the federal government wants to see how the law is applied in court first.

"For now, I do not want to promise amending it now, as we are not done with the rest of the laws yet as there are seven or eight clauses (in the in other laws that has yet to be passed by the Dewan Rakyat)."

"It won't be amended until I am (done) with other laws. It is not like I am waiting for a case to happen but I have other laws to look into passing through like the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code," she said

To a question from reporters, Nancy was unable to provide a time frame for the amendments to be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat.

'What's done is done'

Nancy said that her priorities now was to see through the tabling of amendments to the CPC and Evidence Act. 

"I have to look them personally after the Penal Code. Before that I did not know that I had to look into it personally (all the laws). I thought it was alright you know. But what is done is done," she said.
On Oct 23, just a day after the Dewan Rakyat passed a bill to introduce Section 203A, Nancy told reporters that she had ordered the Attorney-General to further revise the law.
Critics claim that the new law was poorly worded and it will have a chilling effect on civil servants and NGOs who want to report on corruption within the government. 

Section 203A reads: 'Whoever discloses any information or matter which has been obtained by him in the performance of his duties or the exercise of his functions under any written law shall be punished with a fine of not more than one million ringgit, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with both.'

In an earlier speech, Bar Council chairperson Christopher Leong said the Bar was opposed to Section 203A because there were existing laws such as the Official Secrets Act 1972 which achieved the same purpose.

He added that Section 203A would also supersede the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, thereby discouraging individuals from uncovering graft.

'PCA won't be abused'

In her rebuttal, Nancy said that the purpose of Section 203A was to prevent civil servants from disclosing information vital to the government's operations, citing plans on tackling serious crime as an example.

"We will leave it as it is but if it goes to court, it can be argued there," she said.

The minister also promised that the the much criticised amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act 1969 would not be abused, adding that the government was aware of public concerns over the return of detention without trial.

"We will try our very best not to use that provisions under the PCA. We will look into other means of charging the individual under other existing laws.

"I hope that is going to happen as we are also very concerned (about the possibility that) detention without trial will be abused. We hope the authorities... (will charge) the offender first," she said.

Another lawyer who spoke at the event, N Sivanathan who is experienced in habeas corpus applications, argued that the PCA was a better law because of several features that act as safeguards against abuses.
~ Malaysiakini

1 comment:

Winston said...

Whistles can be blown on anybody except the ruling party.
They are above the law.
They are the law!!!
It would be extraordinarily naive of anybody to think that they will pass any law that will hinder their road to more wealth.
It's easier to ask them to commit hara-kiri!!!
They are extremely blatant to do what they want!!!
Who can touch them???
All Malaysians must make it their mission in life to kick UMNO/BN out of Putrajaya.
Nothing less will do!!!!