Kuala Lumpur, 6 April 2016 – The recent arrest of Member of Parliament Rafizi Ramli at the gates of Parliament under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) is a regressive move on the part of the authorities.
“Transforming the country into a developed and high-income nation necessitates the need for the government to be open, transparent and accountable, especially when public funds are involved,” said Wan Saiful Wan Jan, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs. “The workings of a democratic government should be open to public scrutiny”.
Wan Saiful added: “Instead of silencing critics, the government should proactively look for ways to change our laws so that we have a more open environment. Instead of arresting someone like YB Rafizi, the government could have looked for more positive steps. The government could have started moves towards signing up to the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which is a global multilateral initiative for governments that are committed to transparency and fighting corruption. Sixty nine countries have signed up to this platform and Malaysia should join it too. It is disappointing that our government has not committed itself towards a more positive direction like the OGP, but it is silencing critics using the OSA instead.”
The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. To become a member of OGP, participating countries must endorse a high-level Open Government Declaration, deliver a country action plan developed with public consultation, and commit to independent reporting on their progress going forward. The Open Government Partnership was formally launched on September 20, 2011, when the 8 founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States) endorsed the Open Government Declaration, and announced their country action plans. The OGP now has 69 countries.