KUALA LUMPUR — June 21, 2019: The idea for Malaysia to have its own media council was first mooted way back in 1973 by the then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.
It was however only today, that the country is taking its first real baby-steps in forming such a council.
“Everyone has agreed, in principal, to the setting up of a pro-tem committee to start the ball rolling,” said a source from the media fraternity, who this morning attended a meeting chaired by Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo.
The meeting was held at Gobind’s office in Putrajaya and those representing the media fraternity include leading figures from the National Press Club, Journalist Alliance, National Union of Journalists, Malaysian Press Institute (MPI) and Centre of Independent Journalism.
Besides Gobind, the government was represented by the prime minister’s media adviser Datuk Abdul Kadir Jasin and several officers from the Attorney-General Chambers.
While the details, including the job scope of the committee have yet to be ironed out, The Mole was informed that a bill on the media council will be tabled in Parliament in October.
In a Facebook posting today, Gobind wrote that those who attended the media council have reached an understanding that the council should be set-up by an act of parliament.
“The proposed bill will focus on five key areas for now, namely outlining the objectives and functions of the council, its constitution and membership, a code of conduct, the dispute resolution methods and general provisions which include examining current laws which need to be repealed or amended when the council is established.
“I have asked the drafting division to come up with a preliminary paper within two weeks from now, after which a pro-tem committee consisting members of the media will be set up to finalise the finer details of the bill,” read Gobind’s statement.
During the meeting, MPI chief executive officer Datuk Dr Chamil Wariya said he had stressed on the need for additional legislation to be introduced so as to further bolster the independence of not only the council but also the media.
These include, the Freedom of Information Act, a journalist protection act such as the Shield Act, which prevents the United States Congress from passing laws that can curtail freedom of the press.
“I also proposed for the corporatisation of RTM (Radio Television Malaysia), so that it can be like the United Kingdoms’ BBC, Australia’s ABC and Japan’s NHK. If the government said that political parties cannot run or own any media outfit, then I am of the opinion that the government too should not be owning a media organisation,” said Chamil.