07 Feb Pursuing whistle-blowers is protecting the wrongdoers, AG told
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 — The proposal to punish whistle-blowers and journalists who report on the government’s mismanagement is to directly protect the people who commit the wrongdoings that are leaked to the public, a whistle-blowers group said today.
Criticising Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohd Apandi Ali who yesterday said he will seek harsher penalties for those leaking information as well as media personnel reporting on these, the National Oversight & Whistle-blowers (NOW) centre said this did not address the problem of mismanagement by the government.
“Information leaks on the abuse of power, leakages, and breach of trust only occur when there is a loss of faith in the related organisation. The failures of reforms and prevention are what cause whistle-blowers to seek alternative channels.
“Most leaks are made for the public’s interest and are capable of stopping a repeat of the incident exposed,” said NOW director Akmal Nasir.
He added that attempts to obfuscate government dealings via the Official Secrets Act (OSA) in the current era was parochial and counter to the public’s demand for greater transparency in the age of information.
Akmal added that the problem with leaked information on government abuses will stop if there are no more abuses to expose, saying that there would be no need for whistle-blowers to take the risks they did to reveal the wrongdoings to the public.
He also said that instead of raising the penalties for those leaking and reporting on such information, the AG should instead seek harsher punishment for those who abuse their power and positions in the government.
Akmal added that NOW will continue with its exposés despite the increased legal pressure that would result from Apandi’s proposals.
Apandi was yesterday reported as saying that he will consider seeking an increase to the penalties available against those who leaked official secrets, including raising the sentences to life imprisonment and 10 strokes of the cane.
According to the Chinese language Sin Chew Daily, Apandi said the proposed amendments to the Official Secrets Act will also include journalists who refuse to identify the sources of the leaked information.
The AG also said that there is no right to information according to the Federal Constitution.
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