DAP calls for the Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill to be referred to a Parliamentary Select committee for public representations and feedback

Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, MP for Tanjung and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, at DAP PJ Hqrs on Tuesday, 28.10.1986 at 11.30 a.m.

DAP calls for the Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill to be referred to a Parliamentary Select committee for public representations and feedback

The Official Secrets Act (Amendment) Bill 1986 tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Abdul Ajib Ahmad, will make Malaysia the most secretive government in all Commonwealth Parliamentary nations.

The OSA(Amendment) Bill has defined ‘official secrets’ with a vengeance, to include all and sundry related to government under the definition, to the extent that ‘opinion, advice or recommendation’ about operation and functions of the Government would also be covered.

What is even more shocking is that the OSA Amendment Bill also usurps the powers of Parliament by empowering the Minister concerned to enlarge and broaden the definition of ‘official secret’ as and when the Government deems it suitable.

The DAP calls for the Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill to be referred to the a Parliamentary Select Committee to consider public views, representations and feedback, as was done in the case of the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Bill. In fact, the OSA (Amendment) Bill is even more of a threat to fundamental rights of Malaysians, as it will ‘drug’ Malaysians into a secret government, where the people will lose their democratic right to hold the government to public accountability through total denial of access to information.

I cannot imagine how Ministers like Anwar Ibrahim who prides himself of his deep convictions about the need to defend human rights and fundamental liberties could support such a draconian provision as the OSA (Amendment) Bill.

I would urge the Barisan Nasional Mps not to abuse their fourth-fifth majority in Parliamentary by ramming though the OSA (Amendment) Bill, but to allow the fullest public debate and discussion through the reference of the Bill to a Select Committee.

The 24 DAP MPs take a very serious view of the government’s intention to put the OSA (Amendment) Bill on the statute books, for it will not only make the Malaysian press into government gazettes, it will snuff out dissent, criticism and expose of government corruption, wrongdoing, abuse of power, breach of trust.

The 24 DAP MPs will hold an important meeting tomorrow night to discuss the Official Secrets Act (Amendment) Bill, including measures they should take to get all Malaysians concerned about democratic rights and fundamental liberties to take a stand to resist the enactment of the OSA (Amendment) Bill.

The Barisan Nasional government is suffering from a very serious ‘secrecy’ syndrome. I have just been informed that my parliamentary question asking the Minister of Home Affairs to list the Internal Security Act detainees who had been detained for from five to more than 10 years has been rejected for contravening Standing Order 23(1)(f), which states that “a question shall not seek information about any matter which is of its nature secret.”

What is so secretive about the ISA detainees held from five to more than 10 years. Previously, such a parliamentary question would be answered. But a new secrecy has descended on the Government, which bodes ill for freedom, democracy and human rights in Malaysia!