Pressing for freedom and responsibility

There’s an interesting piece today written by the managing editor of The Star, P. Gunasegaram, headlined ‘Freedom with responsibility’. It essentially, and rightly, argued for a freer environment for the print media in Malaysia, one that is freed from the tenacious claws of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA).

It is in this context that Gunasegaram mentioned the media council poser made by the Home Minister of late, a proposal that needs to be handled carefully. As he rightly cautioned us, there’s the crucial issue of the council’s composition, terms of reference and independence.

But what’s equally important to note is that the very idea of having a media/press council is to allow for self-regulation within the industry so that it is made accountable for its action, and at the same time prevents and avoids to a large extent unnecessary state interference in the affairs of the media.

However, the setting up of the media council without the prior repealing of restrictive laws such as the PPPA and ISA, and the reviewing of OSA and Sedition Act would only defeat the very purpose of having the council in the first place.

Additionally, as cautioned by Gunasegaram and other critics before him, the media council would merely function as another layer of control over the already shackled media.

And Malaysia would still occupy the lower rung in the world press freedom ranking.

Incidentally, a survey conducted recently in Indonesia indicates that the Indonesian people generally favour press freedom. 

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