Friday, August 23, 2013

TI-M wants all procurement documents declassified

Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) is urging that all procurement documents, including those for the Automated Enforcement System (AES) be declassified.
"Official secrets or top secrets should only apply to sensitive government documents involving the procurement of military defence equipment; all other documents should be made available to the people's representatives for scrutiny.
"This will also help restore public confidence in the government, which in the past, has always been seen as operating in a cloud of secrecy," it said in a statement yesterday.
The corruption watchdog was responding to Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng's press conference on Wednesday highlighting that the concession agreements with AES' concessionaires Tegap Sdn Bhd and Ates Sdn Bhd are state secrets.
This is based on inquiries to acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussien, to which he said in a parliamentary written reply on July 17 that the documents are classified.
"For the attention of the Honourable House, the terms and conditions of the concession agreement are classified/secret documents," said the minister.
"Therefore in line with Rule 23(1)(f) of the Standing Orders ‘a question may not request for an explanation on anything that is secret', the contents of the agreement cannot be disclosed in the August House."
Remove cloud of secrecy
TI-M said it is disappointed to learn of this development, saying that there is no reason to classify the documents as official secrets.
It also urged the government to consider abolishing the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and - if it is serious about fighting corruption - emulate Selangor and Penang in enacting freedom of information laws.
"Removing the cloud of secrecy around public procurements is the best way to ensure all procurements are done above board," said the anti-corruption watchdog.

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