Oct 23, 2013

    KL seeks to curb info leaks by govt staff

    DEBATE is hotting up in Malaysia over a proposal to impose a fine of up to RM1 million (S$391,000) on civil servants who provide information to the public without permission, the Malaysian media reported.

    They can also be jailed for up to a year under proposed amendments to the Penal Code that were passed for a third reading in Malaysia's House of Representatives yesterday.

    Under the new legislation, which may also affect the media, anyone receiving such information could be held liable as well, The Sun daily reported.

    Opposition MPs spoke out against the legislation, saying that it will deter whistle- blowers and undermine the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) enforced in Penang and Selangor.

    "If this is passed, state government officers will have the right under FOI to release certain information to the public, but face being charged under Clause 11 since federal law supersedes state laws," said Penang MP Sim Sze Tzin.

    MP N. Surendran said the clause was more draconian than the Official Secrets Act, which is limited in scope to classified information.

    Defending the amendment, de facto law minister Nancy Shukri said that the legislation will be used only if the situation threatens national security, The Malaysian Insider reported.

    Another two controversial proposed amendments to the Penal Code, calling for mandatory jail sentences for vandalising public property and insulting the national flag, were withdrawn from the Bill.