answering the topic on government privileges in Malaysia

Topics: State, Sovereign state, Government Pages: 2 (663 words) Published: April 27, 2014
The question also concerns government privilege in disclosing confidential information from the public.

In this situation, Yong & Partners has been asked to represent the parties that had died resulting from the negligence act of the government in building the large dam in Sg. Kerian. However, when asked for a copy of inquiry report from the government it was turned down on the ground that the matter involved 'affairs of the state' and so government privilege applied.

So the issue here is whether the government can use its privilege to refuse the request of inquiry report by Yong & Partners in representing the deceased in Sg. Kerian incident.

In Malaysia, the government has the privilege not to produce certain confidential information which relate to the state affairs and few provisions in the Evidence Act 1950 has provide for this privilege. Section 123 of the Act provides that production of any unpublished officials records relating to state affairs is not permitted unless with consent given by the head of department, subject to the Malaysian government or Chief Minister of state, whomever related. Section 124 provides that a public officer cannot be compelled to disclose any official informations communicated to him in confidence, where public interest will suffer from the disclosure. Section 162(2) further provides that where the court sees fit, they may inspect the document unless it refers to state affairs.

The question of this privilege owned by the government in refusal to produce documents in the court has been discussed in B. A. Rao v Sapuran Kaur [1978] 2 MLJ 146. In that case, death of decease was due to negligence of medical officer of district hospital, in which, damages was claimed by respondent. The respondent issued a notice to produce the reports and findings to a committee of inquiry set up by the hospital in which the appellant objected to do so on the ground that the reports and findings are unpublished official records, and...
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