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Keeping secrets over Bukit Antarabangsa

“We hope the Bukit Antarabangsa residents will know the truth now that the full report has been released.”

Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim announcing that the Public Works Department (JKR)’s investigation report on the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide would be declassified by the Selangor government. The report was released to the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) under the Selangor government and was to have been available for sale at the council from 24 Nov 2009.

Bukit Antarabangsa landslide pic — cars crashed into a house

Some of the damage caused by the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide of December 2008 (pic courtesy of Raj Kumar)

Khalid said the report identifies leaks from active pipes installed in abandoned houses as the main cause of the landslide. The leaking pipes increased the moisture level on the slopes. (Source: Bukit Antarabangsa landslide report declassified, Malaysiakini, 18 Nov 2009)

“The bi-lingual report can also be downloaded by the public and the process is expected to be completed at the end of this year.”

“The report is in the final printing process and will be put up on the Works Ministry and the Public Works Department website.”

Works Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor during his speech in Parliament on Budget 2010 on 9 Nov 2009 that the report would be made public, according to the Parliament Hansard. (Source: Ministry had intended to declassify landslide report, Malaysiakini, 26 Nov 2009)

“The decision was made by the cabinet not to declassify the report which my ministry submitted to MPAJ based on the investigations that we carried out.”

Shaziman, reacting to Khalid’s statement on declassification of the report. Shaziman said there was no need for the ministry to declassify the report as Khalid was already making statements on the reasons for the landslide. (Source: No request to declassify report, The New Straits Times, 25 Nov 2009)

“Since the document was prepared by the Public Works Department, it is likely that the report had been classified by the Works Ministry. Only the person who classified the document can declassify it later.”

“Although Section 2C gives the Menteri Besar the power to declassify documents, his power pertaining to this report is not absolute… the consent of the minister must first be obtained.”

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong challenging Khalid’s claim that he can declassify the report. Liew said Khalid could face charges for declassifying the report under section 30(A)(f) of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972. (Source: Is Khalid in hot soup? [sic], The Malay Mail, 19 Nov 2009)

“Having been privy to the report, the State believes it will not prejudice national interests and security. In fact, public interest and security will benefit from the revelation of the report.”

Khalid responding to warnings that he could be breaching the OSA. The Selangor government reversed its earlier decision to declassify the detailed report following threats that it was breaching the law. He said a letter had been sent to the JKR to declassify the report. (Source: Bukit Antarabangsa report controversy: Federal govt hits the brakes, The Malay Mail, 24 Nov 2009)

“We had never posted the report on the Internet, it had never been released. When we approved it to be tabled to the cabinet, we had agreed to send it to the MPAJ… all of a sudden it becomes very popular.”

Shaziman commenting on the fact that the report had been leaked online. He said the Works Ministry would consult its legal adviser on whether it should lodge a police report about the leak. (Source: Ministry to seek legal advice on ‘leaked’ report, theSun, 1 Dec 2009)

“It’s very simple, I hope you can actually understand what I’m saying. For example, you ask an architect (let’s use JKR) to design your house. When the design is complete, JKR will give it back to you. When it is ready, does the architect need to tell the whole world the details of your house?”

“When I wanted to classify the report, I informed the Cabinet. Now if I were to declassify it, why should I jump procedures? I must also inform the Cabinet and let them decide.”

Shaziman responding to reporters asking whether he would declassify the report. Under the OSA, the minister responsible for classifying the documents as secret has the power to declassify them. However, Shaziman said he would leave it to the cabinet to decide.

He said it was MPAJ’s job to take action in accordance with the report and not divulge the contents to the public, which was against the law. (Source: Works Minister: Cabinet to decide on Bukit Antarabangsa report, The Malaysian Insider, 3 Dec 2009)

“The truth about the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide needs to be told and discussed.”

“The time has come to commit to more open and transparent governance… The public must demand for these reforms [for a freedom of information act] as they have a right to know.”

Maria Chin Abdullah, chairperson of the Coalition for Good Governance in a letter to the editor. (Source: Time to un-gag information, The Nut Graph, 1 Dec 2009)

“We are not bothered about the politics, just give us the report.”

Chairperson of Bukit Antarabangsa Action Committee Datuk N Muniandy, calling for the detailed report to be released. He said that the full report was needed by the landslide victims as there were legal implications, and damages could not be claimed with just a summary. (Source: Bukit Antarabangsa residents want landslide report, The Malaysian Insider, 27 Nov 2009) favicon

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One Response to “Keeping secrets over Bukit Antarabangsa”

  1. Tan says:

    Those recalcitrant ministers who have self-interest at hand to protect their cronies should not be included in the cabinet. OSA & ISA should be abolished as they have been abused too often to protect wrongdoers instead of the public at large.

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