‘Media must be free from political influence’

Sharing his views: Fernandez speaking to journalists after meeting the Council of Eminent Persons at Ilham Tower in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: Political parties must not be majority shareholders in media agencies so that they will be free from political influence, says National Union of Journalists Malaysia (NUJ).

Its president Mohd Taufek Razak said it was one of four proposals which he had presented to the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) during a meeting with them yesterday.

“The reason why we suggested this idea is so that there will be a rule in place to prevent political parties from becoming a majority stakeholder in a media agency.

“But they can still be a minority stakeholder,” he said when contacted.

Mohd Taufek added that media agencies must be business oriented so that the livelihoods and future of employees would not be affected should a political party run into problems.

He said NUJ also called for the setting up of a media council.

“The council will act as a body to investigate any wrongdoing. It will then submit a report to the Government to take necessary action,” he said, adding that the council must also be free from government influence.

Among others, the council will consist of those from NUJ, media related non-governmental organisations, academicians, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, media owners and editors-in-chief of every media company in the country.

Under the Pakatan Harapan Government, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo pledged to allow greater press freedom.

Mohd Taufek also called for the CEP to revise the Printings Presses and Publications Act 1984, especially the provisions related to licensing.

“There is no need for a licence. Whoever wants to establish a newspaper company can do so but there must be accountability,” he said.

Mohd Taufek said he also proposed for the mandate to be given to NUJ to train new reporters on journalism ethics.

Meanwhile, Persatuan Karya­wan Malaysia (Karyawan) has proposed the setting up of an arts council to look into the welfare of artistes and development of arts in the country.

Its president Datuk Freddie Fernandez said the governing body could cover various disciplines of arts, including theatre, music, writing, performing and fine arts.

“We suggested it would be good if we put all arts under one particular body for it to monitor and conduct activities to develop the industry,” he said after meeting the CEP separately.

“The council has taken note of the suggestion and hopefully we will hear from them soon,” he said, adding that the CEP’s response was positive.

Last week, renowned local songstress Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza said she was hopeful that the new Government would look into the welfare of artistes.

She said she was willing to share her ideas, if required.

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