Gerakan Hands Memo On Press Freedom To Home Ministry

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 26 (Bernama) -- Gerakan today handed to the Home Ministry a memorandum on Malaysia's drop in ranking in the 'World Press Index 2014' as stated by international non-governmental organisation (NGO), Reporters without Borders.

Its vice-president, Dr Dominic Lau Hoe Chai, said the rankings compiled and published recently by Reporters without Borders showed that Malaysia had dropped 23 places, from the 122nd to the 145th spot, last year.

"We strongly feel that the startling drop in ranking necessitates immediate attention and concrete actions from the government to ameliorate the situation," he said after handing over the memorandum to a representative from ministry.

Gerakan, in the memorandum, called on the government to give serious consideration towards six proposals, one of which was to recognise, protect and defend the natural and legal right to freedom of opinion and expression as well as freedom of the press as provided under the law.

It called for a review of the relevance of existing laws that hindered the presence of a free press, namely the Sedition Act 1948, Printing Presses and Publications (Amendment) Act 2012 and the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA).

Lau said Gerakan wanted the government to study and enact sunshine laws and a Freedom of Information Act at the federal level for greater transparency and accountability.

"The next is to commit to a dialogue with all interested parties, including government agencies, non-governmental organisations, pressure groups and professional bodies, on establishing an independent media council or ombudsman with self-regulatory powers to act as a media watchdog," he said.

Gerakan also wanted a review of and amendment to the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 so that journalists were accorded adequate legal protection when making disclosures in the media.

It also wanted clearer guidelines pertaining to regulations on media censorship as well as better training to be offered to related civil servants and enforcement officers.





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