Malaysian State of Selangor Inaugurates FOI Law Jan. 1

31 December 2012

The freedom of information law in the Malaysian state of Selangor will come into force Jan. 1.

The bill was passed in April of 2011 and is the first state FOI law. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

“It’s a very exciting challenge for the state government,” executive councillor Elizabeth Wong told The Selangor Times.  Reporter Gan Pei Ling said further, “She anticipates some hiccups in the beginning as the civil service has been used to working in secrecy under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) since the
1970s.”

The first phase of the FOI implementation will include state departments, district offices and local councils, according to Wong with a second phase to cover state-owned companies, such as the Selangor State Development Corporation and statutory bodies such as the Selangor Housing and Property Board. This is to allow them time to amend their articles of incorporation.

Information officers have been designated to respond to FOI requests within 30 days, or seven days for urgent cases. Those who are illiterate or people with disabilities can submit an oral instead of written application for information, the newspaper reported.

Former judges and legal experts will be appointed to an Information Appeals Board.

In a local transparency development, several groups have proposed that all local councils in the state “form a separate Right to Information section where all state documents will be accessible to the public,” according to an article in Free Malaysia Today. The proposal, not further described, “came about after a meeting between the Klang local council (MPK) and two NGOs – human rights center Komas and Dignity International which is based in Netherlands.”

One local transparency milestone occurred when the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) became the first local council to broadcast a full board meetings live on the internet, The Selangor Times reported.

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