CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS MUST NOT BE COMPROMISED IN GOVERNMENT’S PLAN TO REDUCE POLITICAL OWNERSHIP OF MEDIA ORGANISATIONS

CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS MUST NOT BE COMPROMISED IN GOVERNMENT’S PLAN TO REDUCE POLITICAL OWNERSHIP OF MEDIA ORGANISATIONS

PRESS STATEMENT BY

GERAKAN NATIONAL PRESIDENT

DATUK DR. DOMINIC LAU HOE CHAI

NOVEMBER 30, 2018

  1. Gerakan calls on the government to ensure civil and political rights are not compromised in its new plan to limit the share equity of political leaders or parties in media organisations.
  2. We support the government’s initiative to promote neutral and authentic journalism and news reporting. The new legislation should encourage transparency and diversity in media ownership.
  3. However, I must remind it is also the responsibility of the government to protect democratic space for dissent and expression in the country. The government’s plan to limit media ownership must not be a form of suppression of political opposition.
  4. The government is not always right, and not all criticism against the government are fake or invalid as dictated by the government itself. Political parties should be given ample space and platform to engage the public and provide counter-narratives for check-and-balance.
  5. Media ownership by political leaders or parties does not necessarily mean that it has an impact on media independence and pluralism. A media owner need not have to be politically affiliated, but can still slant coverage to suit a particular party. Moreover, corporate donation and event sponsorship for media organisations is a common source of political influence.
  6. Nonetheless, the government should lead by example by first convincing Malaysians that it will ensure state-run media agencies such as Bernama and RTM will also give fair and equal coverage to the Opposition.
  7. It is also advisable that the government shows the political will to initiate serious media reform by reviewing a number of laws that impinge media freedom in Malaysia.
  8. I reiterate calls for the government to set up a Malaysian Media Council to promote self-regulatory, professional and credible journalism and news reporting.

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