Positive progress in setting up Malaysia Media Council

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KUALA LUMPUR (March 4): The Pakatan Harapan (PH) Government is pleased to see positive progress in the establishment of the Malaysia Media Council (MMC), said the Prime Minister's Special Advisor on Media and Communications  Datuk A. Kadir Jasin.

The veteran newsman said the MMC might be able to be established by this year.

"I have been talking to several groups of people to encourage them to do this (Media Council) as quickly as possible. The new Government is coming to one year very soon and there are still many promises yet to be delivered, particularly in the area of reforms, many more laws that we promised we will repeal or amend, are yet to be repealed or amended.

"I have seen at least two pretty good drafts about what MMC should be and those drafts may be discussed here in the next two days. I hope some clearer ideas will come out of this conference so that it can be presented to the Government," he said in his keynote address at the National Consultation for a MMC 2019, he said, here today.

The Deputy Secretary General of Communications and Multimedia Ministry Shakib Ahmad Shakir attended the event to represent Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia Eddin Syazlee Shith.

Kadir added that the establishment of the MMC is imperative, but the Government will not be involved in the process.

"It is imperative because the government wants it, but the Government is not going to take the first step... that is not the policy of the new Government, we do not want to interfere with the media.

"We want the media to be free but we also want the media to be responsible. So, the Media Council is imperative upon journalists and media practitioners, it is important because it is part of the reform process of the new Government," said Kadir.

The two-day conference was jointly organised by the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR).

It aims to bring together a wide range of stakeholders to work out a roadmap for self-regulation for the Malaysian media.

Meanwhile, Shakib when reading Eddin’s speech said the Malaysia Media Council could learn from self regulatory bodies from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines.

He said in Indonesia, for example, self-regulation has been very successful in helping the press meet challenges from attempted Government interference to issues of extremism and they have set standards of peacekeeping and ethnic conflict.

"In the Philippines, the Cebu Citizen Press Council has, likewise helped to set the standard in the difficult environment, they have worked with police to help uphold justice such as in presumption of innocence. They have also engaged with religious bodies to help cultivate understanding among adherence of different faith and help to improve the condition for court reporters including dealing with issues of harassment," he said.

According to the CIJ press release, the idea of a media council was first mooted for Malaysia as far back in the 1970s and several times since then, most recently in 2011.

The idea, however,  has received little support from journalists in particular, who have consistently asserted that a MMC can only be realised once the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA) is repealed, as an initial sign that the Government is committed to the concept of self-regulation and media freedom.

With the Pakatan Harapan's stated commitment to both the repeal of the PPPA and the setting up of self-regulatory body, there is a need to bring together people with an interest in the Media Council, including journalists, editors, publishers and civil society, the statement stated.

MMC is a self-regulatory body that could set high standards for the media community to help build and maintain trust in the industry and act as an arbitration body between the public and the media in the interests of all Malaysians.