Communications and Multimedia Act will be amended — Gobind

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KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 4): The Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA) will be amended to tighten some of the legal provisions which are often deemed to be very broad.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said the CMA extends beyond the Sections 233 and 211 as it deals with a lot of other things.

"It is a piece of legislation which basically deals with the existence of Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), regulatory frameworks, the telcos and so forth.

"So, if you talk about repealing the whole Act, then I think that’s something that’s not attainable at this particular time,”he said in an interview with BFM Radio, here, today.

Section 233 deals with improper use of network facilities or network service, while Section 211 prohibits the publication of offensive content on the Internet.

Making clarifications on the matter, Gobind Singh said the public must understand that there were two parts regarding the legal abolition and amendment as contained in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto.

"One it speaks about a list of legislations that need to be repealed and two, it speaks about a list of legislations that need to be amended,” he said.

"Thus, the move to amend the Section 233 is to prevent (it from being) abuse and this is in line with the PH pledge as stated in our manifesto,” adding that the move aimed to do away with elements which were draconian in nature.

According to the Minister, in the past, the complaint has been that Section 233 had been used primarily on Opposition members where some of them had been charged, particularly a section of leaders from the Opposition before, who are now in the Government.

"So, what we see is a scenario whereby you have a provision which is very broad and because it is so broad, it can be easily used against almost anyone.

"I think what we need to do is look at (Section) 233 and discuss how it we can tighten these provisions, to ensure there is no political persecution, to ensure there is no abuse, to ensure that there is fairness and to ensure that ultimately what we have is to see the objective of that provision carried out, which is to regulate multimedia fairly,” he stated.

On another note, Gobind Singh said regulators such as the Malaysian Communications And Multimedia Commission (MCMC) must be made neutral in order to function effectively starting by ending the practice of having political appointees head such organisations.

“In the BN regime before, we have a situation where the political appointees set on how certain things are done such as formulating policies. Political appointees in institutions such as MCMC should be removed,” he said.

He was commenting on a question posed to him on former MCMC chief executive Datuk Mazlan Ismail who challenged PKR president elect Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Permatang Pauh in the 2013 General Election under the BN banner.

Mazlan, along with MCMC chairman Tan Sri Dr Halim Shafie and two other senior officials, resigned on July 1 amid a purge of political appointees installed by the previous BN administration.

The Communications and Multimedia Ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Dr Mohd Ali Mohamad Nor is serving as the interim chairman of MCMC until a replacement candidate is found.