PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) must not stand in the way of the media to report the news responsibility, say journalists.
They said recent warnings issued by MCMC, aside from calling up editors and blocking certain news portals, are concerning and a serious matter.
The journalists in a statement on Sunday (Sept 24) said it is important for MCMC to grasp that media practitioners understand their responsibilities and are guided by their professionalism and code of ethics.
"In the latest development, news portal MalaysiaNow was instructed to make changes or take down a report pertaining to the ruckus in the Dewan Rakyat on Sept 19.
"We are particularly concerned with the content of a statement issued by MCMC on Sept 22 regarding the matter. We are of the opinion that the response from MCMC is a reflection of the shallowness of understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the media.
"The statement proves that MCMC is hiding behind the Communications and Multimedia Act of 1998 to justify its existence and actions," they said.
The statement was signed by notable journalists from various local publications.
The group pointed out that the ruckus in Dewan Rakyat was aired live and viewed by the public with snippets of the incidents available on all social media platforms.
They said MCMC placing blame on news portal for reporting the story is unfair and unacceptable.
"The excuse given by MCMC that a few reports on the event had 'been used as a weapon to manipulate content and to create a feeling of disrespect and a narrative of confusion' raises more questions than answers.
"Since when do we consider reporting as a misdemeanour in this country? In this context we urge MCMC not to preach to us on what constitutes good and fair reporting.
"The problems faced by the MCMC in managing social media must not be an excuse to curtail the right of media practitioners to carry out their responsibilities.
"We are fully aware that there is no such thing as absolute freedom of the press anywhere in the world. But we have to work with those imperfections to play the role of the eyes and ears to the people."
The group also told MCMC to understand that the concept of a functioning democracy requires a free and vibrant press, adding that doing the opposite is akin to undermining the Prime Minister's wish for a free and responsible media.
"He has time and again promised to take constructive criticism and comments openly.
"The move by MCMC is undermining the very spirit espoused by the Prime Minister to ensure a conducive atmosphere where media practitioners can work without fear and favour," they added.