Not The New Straits Times

March 1 - 15, 2000

Published twice monthly


UFO lands in Kelantan

Melaka sacks Opposition supporters

Anwar assault trial postponed

Pinochet sends greetings

Crime on the rise

Minister claims RMAF is crap

Chinese soaps 'a bad influence'

FEATURE: The Knowledge Economy

Mahahtir wants 'brain gain'

National media system mooted

Eliminate the 'secrecy syndrome', says PM

Minister makes quantum leap into IT

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Eliminate the 'secrecy syndrome', says PM

Malaysia is preparing for a "quantum leap" into the information age with the drafting of the knowedge-economy master plan, Strategic Ininitive One . "Knowledge content and knowledge contribution will see a quantum leap in every area - the Malaysian economy and Malaysian society will not be quite the same again," said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. He added that, under the master plan, reforms must be instituted in the private and public sector and "habits such as hoarding information and the 'secrecy syndrome' done away with" He added that this would need new rules of transparency and governance.

A government official who refused to be named said that Malaysia has already gone a long way in eliminating the 'secrecy syndrome'. "We already have the Official Secrets Act - so we don't need a 'secrecy syndrome'. That is a major quantum leap."

He stressed that the government also does not hoard information. "If we get information such as a politician amassing millions from bribes or massive public funds being channeled to crony companies or family members, we do not hoard it - we make sure we shred it as quickly as we can."

Keadilan Youth leader Ezam
Mohd Noor: Charged under
the Official Secrets Act as part of government efforts to eliminate
the 'secrecy syndrome'
He added that this even applied to sectors such as environmental protection. "For example, the government's daily air pollution readings are now government secrets. But once people start dropping dead in the streets as a result of pollution from the Sumatran forest fires, we'll make sure the pollution indexes are publicly available again. No point keeping secrets then."

When asked about the Prime Minister's 'new rules of transparency and governance', the official cited the recent crackdown on Opposition leaders and newspapers as an indication of greater transparency and governance. "It is greatly transparent we wanted these people out of the way so the Barisan Nasional can practice its governance in perpetuity," he explained

Air pollution are indexes
still secret

Minister makes quantum leap into IT

Government has no intention of
controlling Net dissent - they just want to shut it down
As part of its knowledge economy master plan, Malaysia made another quantum leap into the information technology age when a minister forbade the Internet version of Opposition newspaper 'Harakah' to be updated regularly. Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung said the new publishing permit issued to Harakah can be suspended or revoked if the Internet version of the newspaper is published more than twice a month. He added that further action could be taken against them and they could also be fined.

A local IT expert who refused to be named welcomed the move, saying that there were too many websites on the Internet that were updated daily, hourly, even providing up-to-the-minute information. "Why do we have to ape the West and other foreigners out to re-colonise us by allowing websites to be updated so rapidly? Relaxlah! We must show the world that Malaysia can take the lead and break the boundaries yet again by having the least frequently updated websites in the world."

He cited as an example the Prime Minsiter's own home page which, in October 1998, still featured glowing tributes to Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim even weeks after the deputy premier was unceremoniously sacked and arrested.

Chor, however, later made a hasty denial of his earlier statement, saying that he was incorrectly quoted by the press and the government's policy was not to censor publications and materials on the Internet. Another official who refused to be named confirmed this statement. "We have no intention of controlling the Internet - we'll just jail or sue your ass off if you write something we don't like," he added.