Gerakan concerned with Malaysia's plunge in press freedom index Dominic Lau Hoe Chai: Parliamentary Select Committee Needed to Study and Fix Problem

Press statement by

Gerakan Vice President and Publicity & New Media Bureau Chairman

Dr Dominic Lau Hoe Chai

12 February 2014

Gerakan Vice-President and Publicity & New Media Bureau Chairman, Dr Dominic Lau Hoe Chai voiced his concern and unhappiness over Malaysia's plunge in the World Press Freedom Index 2014. He said that such news is an embarrassment as Malaysia is placed lower compared to repressive regimes such as Myanmar.

 

This is an embarrassment. Malaysia is a democracy but yet in recent months we have seen unfair and unjust actions that has threatened our long cherish democratic traditions. We must appreciate that oppression and censorship only postpones the problems we face but does not solve them. I call on the government to form a Parliamentary Select Committee to immediately study the decline our press freedom ranking and also come up with a concrete solution.”

 

Lau proposed that the parliamentary select committee should study amendments to the Printing Press and Publications Act in line with the promise made by Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in his Malaysia Day Address in 2011 as part of the Political Transformation Programme.

 

He said that despite tweaks to the renewal of permits, the PPPA still gives the Home Minister wide powers to regulate the media which surely contributed to our poor score in the press freedom index. There must be minimal regulation of the media as we seek to become a developed country and a free press is essential in ensuring that power is not abused and politicians act in the best interests of the nation. Malaysia must not only strive to be a developed country economically but also politically and socially.

 

“The refusal to grant FZ.com a printing permit is an example of unfair exercise of the discretionary power granted to the Home Minister by the PPPA. As such, we must explore a self regulation mechanism like the United Kingdom to ensure the media polices itself and also expel any political interference which often contributes to unfair and biased decision based on the political beliefs and persuasions of the politicians who regulate the media; in the case of Malaysia it is the Home Minister.”

 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers as such we must progress and ensure that we respect free speech. At the same time, given our complex social milieu, media outlets must exercise restraint and report the news freely and fairly.

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