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Sunday May 11, 2008

Umno Youth deputy chief all for repealing Press Act

KUALA LUMPUR: Reforms in the mainstream media are important to stem the crisis of credibility that it is facing today, said Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said without reforms, “truth is obscured, and sentiment and innuendo reign supreme.”

“I think we can and should repeal the Printing Presses and Publications Act.

“We should not be afraid of this brave new world of journalism but rather help strengthen it so that Malaysians will benefit from getting credible news everywhere – from the mainstream and other-stream media,” he said in his speech at the National Union of Journalists Press Freedom Forum 2008 yesterday.

Batu MP Tian Chua was a panellist at the forum.

However, Khairy said before the Act could be abolished, the media should have in place a self-regulatory mechanism like a Press Complaints Commission to address complaints and ethical issues.

“There are sensitivities in this country and there must be a place for people to complain when they are not comfortable with the way things are being covered because it incites some racial or religious sentiment in them.

“It is important to get the mechanism right. Once that is in place, we should repeal the Act. I would like to see the process accelerated,” he said.

Khairy believed he had a “modicum of legitimacy” to discuss journalism because with the cyber revolution, “many punches have landed on markedly lower points of my anatomy,” while the administration of his Prime Minister father-in-law was recently described by a blogger on national television as “kerajaan anak beranak” (the children’s government).

“I have a personal reason for believing in these reforms. Much of what is known about me is a caricature conceived and disseminated in a medium that has become the entire truth for many Malaysians,” he said.

He was also in favour of doing away with the annual licence renewal for newspapers.

Khairy, who has often been the target of the alternative Internet media, also believed that charging bloggers like Raja Petra Kamaruddin with sedition would only further embolden the alternative media.

Later, when speaking to reporters, Khairy laughed off rumours that he had been “feeding” information to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to sabotage Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“Oh please, lah. That’s in the realm of fantasy,” he said. “I don’t want to dignify it. That’s mitos fantasia (a fantastical myth).”

Related Story:
NUJ and panellists want Act reviewed

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