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Malaysia: Crippling laws must be repealed immediately

Journalists read newspapers with reports about the killing of a North Korean man outside the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 17 February 2017
Journalists read newspapers with reports about the killing of a North Korean man outside the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 17 February 2017

MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 16 March 2018.

The Malaysian Government needs to take immediate steps to repeal legislation that is crippling the media. The IFJ and the National Union of Journalists, Peninsular Malaysia (NUJM) also want to the government to ensure the Media Council that is being established is independent of the government.

On March 13, 2018 Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, stated at a luncheon with media professionals that the government still intended to establish a self-regulating media body. In the same speech, the Deputy Prime Minister also said that the government was looking at improvements to the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) following the next general elections, which will be held prior to August 24, 2018.

NUJM raised concerns about the establishment of a Media Council, noting that the current proposal needed to be reviewed to ensure the body was truly independent and not linked to the government.

NUJM criticized the government's review of the PPPA, demanding that the draconian law be abolished, along with other laws in Malaysia that continue to impede press freedom.

NUJM general secretary Chin Sung Chew said: "NUJ strongly opposes media manipulation by political parties or government monopoly. As we all know, the print media has become the mouthpiece of the ruling party instead of playing its role as media watchdog and the mouthpiece of the people. This has resulted in the newspapers losing their credibility. The NUJ calls for the government to re-examine the issues curbing press freedom in Malaysia. Malaysia's press freedom development has been stagnant for the past 60 years and has seen a glaring decline with the system of one-party ruling in Malaysia."

The IFJ said: "The Malaysian government's use of laws to restrict and impede press freedom across the country has been an increasing challenge for the IFJ and our colleagues in Malaysia. The Printing Presses and Publications Act is just one piece of legislation in the government's arsenal that must be repealed immediately. The press in Malaysia works in a repressive environment that simply impedes the country's access to information."

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
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