Further talks needed before media council set up

MORE discussions are needed before the nation’s first media council can be set up, says the Communications and Multimedia Ministry.

“Further discussions are needed related to amendments or enactment of new laws by the ministry or relevant agencies before the proposal can be finalised and tabled in Parliament,” the ministry said in a written reply to Wong Shu Qi (Pakatan-Kluang).

The ministry said this was necessary as the report submitted by the media council pro-tem committee contained several recommendations, including the tabling of a proposed Media Council Bill in Parliament.

The committee also proposed amendments to or abolishment of certain existing laws which must also be considered, it said.

Among them was the abolishment of the Printing Presses and Publications Act, Sedition Act and the Official Secrets Act.

The committee also recommended amendments to the Penal Code and Evidence Act and National Film Development Corporation (Finas) Act.

The ministry noted that the proposed amendments to the laws must be made in accordance with the Federal Con-stitution.

In September, the council’s pro-tem committee chairman, Premesh Chandran, said that the draft Bill along with a report had been submitted to the government.

Other recommendations by the council were that all the members of the media industry should be entitled to be members of the council, while membership should also be open to members of the public who are concerned about the mass media.

There have been calls by civil society groups for the setting up of a media council to ensure more media freedom.

Another proposal is that the council should also focus on legal reforms to regulate the industry and protect media freedom in Malaysia.

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