Steering committee set up to discuss forming Malaysia Media Council

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Consultation on a Malaysian Media Council (MMC) has agreed to set up a steering committee to discuss in detail the next step of making the self-regulatory body a reality.

Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) director Sonia Randhawa said the majority of the committee would consist among others, practising journalists, journalist associations and members of the academia.

She said the committee was aiming to hold a meeting in the next three weeks to come up with a draft bill or constitution by 30 April 2019.

“(However) we are also aware that there is an urgent need to amend the legislative framework governing the media in Malaysia at the moment ... and the government has committed to repeal the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA) but they are also very keen to see progress on the idea of a media council as well.

“As media organisations and journalists have been complaining for many decades on the repeal of PPPA, we want to see that happen as soon as possible and that is why we want to expedite as much as we can the formation of MMC, but we want to see the repeal of the PPPA happening first, or at least, alongside,“ she said at a press conference after the two-day conference concluded, today.

The conference jointly organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) and the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR), is aimed at bringing together a wide range of stakeholders to work out a roadmap for the self-regulation of Malaysian media.

The conference gathered more than 70 participants including journalists, editors, civil society participants and government representatives.

The Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on Media and Communications, Datuk A. Kadir Jasin delivered a keynote address on the first day of the conference.

According to the outcome document of the conference, among others, the participants at the National Consultation reiterated that any moves to institute a media council are contingent upon the repeal of repressive laws that govern the media, in particular the PPPA, the Sedition Act 1972, sections 233 and 211 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, along with review of the Official Secrets Act and the implementation of a Freedom of Information Act.

It said the Malaysian media needs an independent self-regulatory body to uphold standards of journalism, raising levels of professionalism, and provide an avenue for the arbitration of public complaints.

It said a media council which is open, accountable and transparent could help to build confidence in the media and contribute to credibility of news media organisations. — Bernama