PETALING JAYA: The decision to place the draft of a foreign workers management contract under the Official Secrets Act has expanded the scope of the law beyond its core, a unionist charged today.
K. Veeriah, Penang branch secretary of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress, said such expansion of repressive laws such as the OSA would only lead to a greater erosion of the people’s right to know and their confidence in the Federal Government.
He said Malaysians had been given the impression that the Official Secrets Act was to protect sensitive issues on national security and the like. “But by capturing an employment related agreement between our government and Bangladesh linking a local company Synerflux is expanding the scope of the OSA, beyond the its core.”
Last week, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid told Parliament that the contract details would be kept confidential as contractual talks had yet to be finalised. The contract with Synerflux was for the company to provide an online system to manage the intake of foreign workers.
Veeriah said Ahmad Zahid’s response was not only evasive but a smoke screen to avoid explaining an issue of utmost importance.
Public perception was at its lowest ebb regarding the issue of 1.5 million Bangladesh workers to be brought to Malaysia over the next five years, he said. Hiding the matter under such archaic laws such as the OSA does not help to assuage this negative perception.
He urged the Federal Government to behave in a transparent and inclusive manner.
The Federal Government has announced that recruitment of new foreign workers had been stopped, while Ahmad Zahid has said the issue of bringing in 1.5 million Bangladeshis was considered closed.
The home ministry has previously denied that Ahmad Zahid had ordered the award of the management system contract to his brother’s company.