THE Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) welcomes the government’s decision to declassify all highway concession contracts except one and expresses hope that future contracts with public interest are made under more open and transparent conditions.
Though long overdue, the announcement by the Works Minister Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamad is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of information on public interest issues that have not been disclosed. We wish to demand that the documents be made available free or at the lowest possible cost so as to allow anyone with an interest in the issue to access them.
The decision should also be the first step towards more disclosures on government contracts with the private sector on public goods such as roads, water, power, health, education and other services.
We still deserve an explanation as to why the government agrees to conditions on paying compensation to toll concessionaires and the perceived lopsidedness in the agreements. As individuals, it annoys us that we either have to accept toll rate hikes or part with our money indirectly when the government agrees to compensate concessionaires when they are not allowed to raise the prices.
The Official Secrets Act is an outdated law that is used to keep information from public scrutiny and it should be replaced with a Freedom of Information law that will obligate public bodies to disclose decisions made using public funds.
Centre for Independent Journalism