Selangor BN’s abuse of power
Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said the state government will, from tomorrow, declassify records from the previous Barisan Nasional administration to “reveal the truth behind projects that were supposed to benefit the state”.
Tabling the Selangor Budget 2010 in the legislative assembly today, he said he is in the midst of declassifying the records by exercising his powers under Section 2(c) of the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
“During this sitting, information on several projects initiated by the previous BN government will be released to the people. These projects were supposed to benefit the state, but have only benefitted certain companies,” he said.
Among these are reforestation projects for commercial purposes and abandoned housing projects in Selangor.
Abdul Khalid (right) said some matters should be placed in the public domain, even though the OSA allows protection for certain categories of information for administrative or security reasons.
“While we accept the need for security reasons related to national defence, other (categories of) information should be made available to the public,” he said.
Elaborating at a press conference later, Abdul Khalid said a series of three documents will be released, including those related to the failure of a housing project for squatters in Bukit Botak.
“After that, we have a report on Bukit Cerakah housing project where 2000 acres of government land were given to settlers. The settlers made a deal with the developers to build houses on every 3 acres of land.
“The developers promised them RM360,000 worth of assets for the 3 acres. In the end, they didn’t get the assets, the projects were abandoned and they lost the 3 acres.
“We have projects that have been abandoned and people don’t know who is behind these; the source of the project; how much land was given; (or) the players involved. With this (release of records), we can have a very good, productive discussion with the victims.”
Abdul Khalid denied that the move is intended as a witch-hunt.
“As result of this, people will be more cautious…be more responsible if they do something wrong this time. They cannot hide behind government protection because the public will know…this will reduce (problems).”
No conflict with OSA
Abdul Khalid also said the move is also aimed at demonstrating the benefit of freedom of information (FOI) to the public, especially since Selangor has plans to table a FOI Bill next March.
He said the draft law has been completed, but that the state government has to “reassess” the provisions proposed.
Enacting FOI legislation will not be easy, he said, because the state government must ensure that the provisions do not trigger a conflict with the OSA.
“When there is conflict, the OSA will prevail. Under the constitution, federal law supersedes state legislation,” he said.
The state government therefore needs “a bit of time” to finalise the Bill, to avoid having it rejected by the attorney-general (AG).
He likened the move to the state’s circular issued in May that Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officials cannot question civil servants in the absence of lawyers, among other conditions.
“But the AG said we do not understand federal law….Once we put out (the FOI Bill), the AG will say that we are contravening the OSA,” he added.
“This is why we have to be careful in doing so. But I have told the AG that I am using my powers under the Section 2(c) to release the documents.”