Call to repeal OSA is loud

Source: The Star Online

PETALING JAYA: Civil societies want the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA) repealed to encourage transparency in the new government.

This, says the Governance, Inte­grity, Accountability and Transpa­rency (GIAT), a coalition of seven civil society organisations, should be part of the institutional reform that should be carried out by the Government to ensure transparency in the country.

GIAT also wants the Government to table a Freedom of Information Bill as soon as possible, to show its commitment to transparency in line with the spirit of the “New Malaysia”. Read more

Transparency: Corporate Malaysia doing better than government — Terence Fernandez

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY TERENCE FERNANDEZ

AUGUST 15 ― On August 8, the Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance (MICG) launched its inaugural report on transparency in corporate reporting among Malaysia’s top 100 public listed companies (PLCs).

As expected, and feared, many companies fell short of the three areas in which they were assessed: anti-corruption programmes (40 per cent); organisational transparency (30 per cent); and sustainability practices (30 per cent).

Out of a possible score of 10, the average company score was a mere 4.6.

But to be fair, some of these companies had already put in place or were in the process of putting in place the desired standards which were not taken into account and included in the final report.

But the results, nonetheless, were not surprising and generally represented the perception of public listed companies having some ways to go in areas of transparent processes including tender procedures and anti-corruption measures where only two companies had cohesive anti-graft training for staff and directors. Read more

Malaysia: Forex loss probe ‘welcome’ but have one for 1MDB too – opposition

Source: Asian Correspondent

THE Malaysian government must reopen domestic investigations into the massive 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund scandal to prove its latest probe involving former prime minister-turned critic Dr Mahathir Mohamad is not a “diversion”, the opposition said.

Federal Opposition Leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said this in response to the formation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to look into billions of ringgit in losses incurred by the central Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) via foreign exchange trading during the Dr Mahathir’s rule in the 1980s and 1990s.

“The Cabinet‘s decision to set up a RCI to investigate the foreign exchange trading loss by Bank Negara is most welcome,” the People Justice Party’s (PKR) president told a press conference on Thursday, as quoted by Free Malaysia Today. Dr Wan Azizah is also the wife of Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition leader currently in jail for sodomy who is still seen as a major threat to the ruling United Malays National Organisation (Umno).

“Based on the same principle, I demand a RCI be set up to investigate allegations by the DoJ (US Department of Justice) concerning the 1MDB scandal.” Read more

Wan Azizah: Now let’s have RCI on DoJ allegations

Source: FMT News

Opposition leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail says government should now agree to form a RCI to probe 1MDB in a bid to prove the RCI on forex losses is not intended as a diversion. Pic taken from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Following the government’s announcement of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the massive foreign exchange (forex) loss decades ago, the opposition today demanded a similar RCI to look into allegations by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) that billions had been stolen from 1MDB.

“The Cabinet‘s decision to set up a RCI to investigate the foreign exchange trading loss by Bank Negara is most welcome,” said Opposition Leader and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

“Based on the same principle, I demand a RCI be set up to investigate allegations by the DoJ concerning the 1MDB scandal,” she said at a media conference at the PKR headquarters.

The Cabinet yesterday announced the establishment of the RCI to investigate the central bank’s forex loss in the 1980s and 1990s, a period coinciding with the premiership of Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Read more

Suhakam TN50 discourse calls for transparency in govt spending

Source: FMT News

Participants also talk about need to respect religious values and having a hub that is transparent and filled with genuine information. Pic from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: Financial literacy, transparent government spending and universal religious values were among the ideas shared at a discourse held by Suhakam today to help draw up the roadmap to National Transformation 2050 (TN50).

TN50 is the new 30-year vision promoted by the government and Suhakam is organising several such discourses to gather views.

Suhakam chairman Razali Ismail said the recommendations raised at the discourse would be forwarded to the TN50 secretariat for further discussion.

Suhakam commissioner Lok Yim Pheng, who addressed today’s participants, said young people needed to be taught how to manage their loans well.

“The young are burdened with housing loans, education loans, insurance premiums and high cost of medical treatment.” Read more

Ideas: Why is Felda paying so much for Indonesian company?

Source: FMT News

There are lots of questions about the deal and the premium price fuels speculation, says Ideas CEO. Pic taken from FMT News.

There are lots of questions about the deal and the premium price fuels speculation, says Ideas CEO. Pic taken from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) must answer why it chose to pay a high price to acquire PT Eagle High Plantations.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan, who heads the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), said the main focus right now is the risks the deal may pose to taxpayers.

“It is mysterious to me how better shareholder value will be created when it looks like Felda is paying a very high price for Eagle High’s shares.

“Felda has to answer why they agreed to this high premium. There is already a lot of questions about the deal and this premium adds to the negative speculation about it,” he said in a statement today. Read more

STATEMENT: Declassify The Auditor General’s Report on 1MDB

pdfSTATEMENT DATED 19 JULY 2016

DECLASSIFY THE AUDITOR GENERAL’S REPORT ON 1MDB

File photo shows a man walking past a 1MDB billboard in Kuala Lumpur. The tabling of the final 1MDB audit report before the PAC has already been delayed twice and has now been classified under the OSA. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

File photo shows a man walking past a 1MDB billboard in Kuala Lumpur. The tabling of the final 1MDB audit report before the PAC had been delayed twice and has now been classified under the OSA. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Details of the 1MDB Auditor General’s report disclosed by Sarawak Report has been met by a wall of silence by the Government save for the usual vitriol hurled at the portal for its disclosure of a classified document.

The directive to the Auditor General to investigate 1MDB came from the Cabinet in March 2015. The report was completed and handed to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on 4 March 2016 at which point it was classified as an official secret. It is unclear exactly who classified it although the Act requires that if it does not fall within the schedule that refers generally to government decisions and issues relating to national security, then it must be so classified by a Minister, the Mentri Besar or Chief Minister or other authorised public officer.  Who therefore classified the report as an official secret?  It must be ensured that no conflict of interest arose in the classification.

The issue now is whether the Auditor General’s report should be declassified under Section 2C of the Official Secrets Act.  There are compelling reasons why it must.

First, this is an audit sought by the Cabinet who was perfectly justified in doing so in view of the fact that public funds were involved.  The Cabinet was therefore acting in the public interest.  However, Cabinet’s task is incomplete if they do not consider the report in full and if they do not publicly disclose its contents.  One does not ask for such an important report to be done by the Auditor General, only to make his findings secret.  In other words, the Auditor General is brought into the picture to examine if there are improprieties relating to public funds.  It is therefore incumbent on the Cabinet to direct the declassification of the Auditor General’s report. Read more

STATEMENT: Declassify The Auditor General’s Report on 1MDB

STATEMENT DATED 19 JULY 2016

DECLASSIFY THE AUDITOR GENERAL’S REPORT ON 1MDB

File photo shows a man walking past a 1MDB billboard in Kuala Lumpur. The tabling of the final 1MDB audit report before the PAC has already been delayed twice and has now been classified under the OSA. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

File photo shows a man walking past a 1MDB billboard in Kuala Lumpur. The tabling of the final 1MDB audit report before the PAC had been delayed twice and has now been classified under the OSA. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Details of the 1MDB Auditor General’s report disclosed by Sarawak Report has been met by a wall of silence by the Government save for the usual vitriol hurled at the portal for its disclosure of a classified document.

The directive to the Auditor General to investigate 1MDB came from the Cabinet in March 2015. The report was completed and handed to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on 4 March 2016 at which point it was classified as an official secret. It is unclear exactly who classified it although the Act requires that if it does not fall within the schedule that refers generally to government decisions and issues relating to national security, then it must be so classified by a Minister, the Mentri Besar or Chief Minister or other authorised public officer.  Who therefore classified the report as an official secret?  It must be ensured that no conflict of interest arose in the classification.

The issue now is whether the Auditor General’s report should be declassified under Section 2C of the Official Secrets Act.  There are compelling reasons why it must.

First, this is an audit sought by the Cabinet who was perfectly justified in doing so in view of the fact that public funds were involved.  The Cabinet was therefore acting in the public interest.  However, Cabinet’s task is incomplete if they do not consider the report in full and if they do not publicly disclose its contents.  One does not ask for such an important report to be done by the Auditor General, only to make his findings secret.  In other words, the Auditor General is brought into the picture to examine if there are improprieties relating to public funds.  It is therefore incumbent on the Cabinet to direct the declassification of the Auditor General’s report. Read more

Transparency for arms deals – Gurdial Singh Nijar

Source: The Sun Daily

BY GURDIAL SINGH NIJAR
(Deputy President, HAKAM)

I RECENTLY finished reading Andrew Feinstein’s The Shadow World. Together with Anthony Sampson’s The Arms Bazaar, they provide deep insights into how the arms trade operates.

Malaysia’s vast financial outlays – the most recent RM2.92 billion in procuring arms, and RM9 billion for six new marine combat ships – raises certain fundamental questions on transparency and accountability. While there is, of course, some need to maintain national security and commercial confidentiality, secrecy enshrouds most arms deals. This all-encompassing secrecy, says Feinstein, “hides corruption, conflicts of interest, poor decision-making and inappropriate national security choices”.

This trade seems to be one of the least scrutinised and accountable areas of government and private activity – when it should be among the most highly controlled and regulated. Read more

1MDB audit no longer ‘secret’ once PAC report tabled in Parliament, Hasan says

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Malaysian Parliament - MMO File pic

Malaysian Parliament – MMO File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — The federal audit report on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) will no longer be classified a state secret under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972 once the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) tables its findings on it in Parliament, panel chairman Datuk Hasan Arifin said today.

Hasan said in a statement here that the report by the National Audit Department is only classified an official secret until the PAC’s report on 1MDB is presented to the lower House.

“In today’s meeting, Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, the Auditor-General explained that after the PAC report is tabled in parliament, the 1MDB final audit report will no longer be an official secret document under the Official Secrets Act 1972,” he said.

He added that the decision to classify the report as secret is the A-G’s prerogative, noting that latter is responsible for making sure such documents are not leaked by “irresponsible” bodies to create a negative perception of the agency. Read more