Finas Act Not Meant To Stifle Personal Freedoms Minister Clarifies




Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah clarified that the government does not intend to use the National Film Development Corporation (Finas) Act 1981 to stifle personal freedoms
This comes after the minister was heavily criticised since earlier today after he told the Dewan Rakyat that a license from Finas is required for all filming activities in Malaysia, even for personal use on social media
In a statement this evening, Saifuddin (above) clarified that what he said in Parliament was merely to explain the Finas Act as it currently stands
“It should be emphasised that the Perikatan Nasional government has never - and does not intend to - use this Act to stifle personal freedoms on social media
“The phenomenon did not exist when the law was enacted,” he said, adding that his ministry is aware that the law needs to be improved and has already undertaken a review of all laws under its purview
“As such, we at the Communication and Multimedia Ministry are open to receiving any suggestion to improve not just the act debated this morning, but also all laws under the ministry’s jurisdiction so that they suit current needs,” he said
Earlier today, Saifuddin was asked in the Dewan Rakyat whether Finas licenses were for social media or traditional media and how they would affect content creators on social media
The Finas Act has recently come under closer scrutiny after it was invoked against Al Jazeera, which authorities accused of filming the documentary "Locked Up in Malaysia's Lockdown" without Finas’ permission
For the record, Al Jazeera has claimed that no license is necessary as the news documentary was aired as part of a weekly current affairs segment thus falling beyond the scope of the licensing requirements
Saifuddin responded to the questions in Parliament saying that the law applied even to those filming for their personal social media accounts
Filming for a local movie in progress (file pix)“It is mandatory for film producers to apply for a film production licence and filming certification letter, regardless of whether they are mainstream media or personal media that publish their films on social media or traditional channels,” he said
The minister’s comments drew brickbats from various quarters
Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil warned that Saifuddin’s statement had far-reaching consequences for social media users in Malaysia and could lead to selective prosecution
Other opposition MPs chimed in, questioning the law and its implications for content creators, educators, and houses of worship
On social media, many netizens expressed concern over Saifuddin’s statement and poked fun at him over the matter
Saifuddin said certain reports about his statement this morning had given the “wrong impression” and “gave a different meaning from what I meant in my answer”. - Mkini

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