9am – 1pm, Tuesday, 19th May 2009
Auditorium, Petaling Jaya Civic Centre, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

‘Freedom of Information: A Right to Reclaim’

World Press Freedom Day is celebrated globally on the 3rd of May each year to commemorate the importance press freedom plays in building a democratic society. Malaysia has not fared very positively in the World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders. In the latest 2008 index, Malaysia fell eight places to 132nd place, its worst ever ranking since. In 2006, it ranked at 92nd, 2007 at 124th and 2008 132nd. Aside from press freedom, other correlated factors that contribute to the disintegration of democracy are social, economic and political decline, corruption and political hatred – which invariably contribute to the ability of the media to exercise and put into practice its freedom.

An extremely crucial element in promoting the culture of press freedom in any country is the concept of freedom of information. Where access to information becomes the fundamental principle, with only specific exceptions, this empowers citizens to keep governments accountable based on the information they have. The overall effect is positive, where bureaucracy is kept efficient, voters are kept informed, and this reduces significantly the potential for corrupt practices.

The Selangor State Government has been proactive about promoting Freedom of Information. A Taskforce on Freedom of Information was formed in early 2009 consisting of State Assemblymen and civil society, chaired by YB Elizabeth Wong, State Executive Councillor. The Taskforce’s first project is to study the possibility of legislating a Freedom of Information Act (FOI Act). The objective is to eventually pass a FOI Act.

The Selangor World Press Freedom Day is held both to mark the significance of press freedom in reporting in a responsible, investigative and free manner; as well as to conduct a public consultation with a cross-section of stakeholders in society on its intended FOI Act. Discussions and feedback will be collated and duly considered when the Bill is tabled at the Selangor State Legislative Assembly.

9.00am : Registration
9.45am : Arrival of YAB Dato’ Menteri Besar Selangor
10.00am : Keynote Address by YAB Dato’ Menteri Besar Selangor, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim
10.15am : Launch of Selangorkini Online and Selangorkini Newspaper by YAB Dato’ Menteri Besar Selangor
10.35am : Departure of YAB Dato’ Menteri Besar Selangor and Press Conference

Coffee Break

10.50am : Panel Discussion & Public Consultation on Freedom of Information Bill
Chairperson: Tricia Yeoh, Research Officer to the Selangor Menteri Besar

– YB Elizabeth Wong, State Executive Councillor and Chairperson, Taskforce on
Freedom of Information
– Sevan Doraisamy, Program Director, Centre for Independent Journalism
– Dipendra Harshad Rai, Bar Council
– Dr. Lim Teck Ghee, Director, Centre for Policy Initiatives
– Mr. Ngooi Chiu Ing, Member of the Exco, Transparency International
– Padmaja Padman, Independent Journalist

12.30pm : Presentation of Collated Views
12.45pm : Press Conference

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