PETALING JAYA: The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has cautioned that the proposed amendments to the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 must not restrict the right to freedom of expression online.
“NUJ considers it best to bring up the right to reporting and freedom of press since online news now play a bigger role in informing the public.
“Clamping down on online reporting will not only maim freedom of information but also removes the democratic rights of the people,” it said in statement on Wednesday.
Proposed amendments to the Act include mandatory registration of political bloggers and online news portals, and an increase in penalties for offences under the Act.
The NUJ said that the proposed amendments have also yet to be publicly shared with civil society organisations including human rights bodies, journalistic organisations and the Malaysian Bar human rights committee.
It added that it was concerned over several proposed amendments to the Act and the broader powers of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to take down online content without proper oversight.
It further stated that if introduced and passed by Parliament the proposed changes would have the effect of entrenching censorship in an environment already heavily regulated for the media and publishing.
“We call on the Government to refrain from adopting any of the proposed amendments (if confirmed), in line with the international principles on freedom of expression, which are part of customary international law and to adhere to the practice of democracy which the country has sworn to uphold,” it said.
In February, Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Jailani Johari said the amendments, which are aimed at improving the Act, encompassed several aspects, including punishment and penalty.
He said a study on the amendments had been conducted in March last year and involved discussions with more than 350 stakeholders, including industry players such as Google and Yahoo.
Did you find this article insightful?