By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, MP for Tanjung and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, Oct 21, 1986:
DAP calls on Cabinet meeting tomorrow to release to the public the Official Secret Act Amendment Bill to the Malaysian public
The secrecy shrouding the Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill 1986 is most unprecedented. Has the ‘secrecy syndrome’ so obsessed the government that it is prepared to do the unheard thing of instructing Parliament not to distribute the OSA (Amendment) Bill to MPs, although the Bill has been sent to Parliament?
Or is it because the government knows that there will be a great public outcry when the OSA Amendment Bill is made public, because the Government had broken its word to clearly define the term ‘official secret’ so as to cut down its meaning and application?
In fact, from all reports, the definition of ‘official secrets’ in the OSA Amendment Bill had done the opposite, in bringing within its spectrum areas which were not covered in the parent ACT of 1972.
I must congratulate the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, for his great legal prowess in defining the ‘official secrets’ not to cut down but expand its meaning, effect and scope! This explains the Attorney-General’s self-confident assertion at a television interview programme a few months ago over Hal Ehwal Semasa that the government has no intention of backing down from its earlier intentions over amendment to the Official Secrets Act.
The Attorney-General, however, should use his legal prowess to help expand the frontiers of democratic freedom for Malaysians, rather than to restrict and truncate them.
I call on the Cabinet at its meeting tomorrow to take the decision to make public the OSA (Amendment) Bill so that the Malaysian public have the right and opportunity to study and debate its implications.
Or is the secrecy shrouding the OSA (Amendment) Bill an indication of the abandonment and replacement of the open an democratic government by a secret and autocratic government in Malaysia, betraying a government which is afraid of the qualities of openness, accountability and right to information of the citizenry which are the real marks of a democratic people and polity?
If the Cabinet meeting tomorrow is not prepared to make public the OSA (Amendment) Bill to the Malaysian public, then every Cabinet Minister explain to the people why he or she has acquired such undesirable, unhealthy and undemocratic habits of secrecy.
DAP proposes formation of Tun Suffian Committee to study and make recommendations of the OSA amendment Bill before further Parliamentary action
The DAP calls on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to set up a Committee of Inquiry, headed by former Lord President Tun Suffian, to study and make recommendations of the OSA amendment Bill after inviting public representations and views, proposing the proper balance between the competing needs of maintaining openness of government (without which there is no democracy) and the need of the government to keep certain essential information secret. Parliament should not take any action on the proposed OSA Amendment Bill until the Tun Suffian Committee has reported to Parliament and the country.