Lfl Disagrees With Mcmc S Call For Responsible Press
Watchdog group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has criticised the Communications and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) recent call for the press to practise responsible journalism and not spread “manipulative content”.
In a statement, LFL campaign coordinator Nabila Khairuddin said the Sept 22 statement by the MCMC was a threat to freedom of expression and in violation of Article 10(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution.
“That right can only be restricted as provided by the law to the necessary extent as stated in Article 10(2)(a) such as in the interests of security, public order, or morality,” she said.
Nabila said the MCMC had used whimsical excuses to justify their past enforcement of the law for content that was deemed, in MCMC’s own words, “disrespectful and divisive”, “manipulative”, “misleading” and “disinformation”.
“For MCMC to arbitrarily talk of restricting ‘disrespectful’ or ‘misleading’ news shows a complete lack of regard for the law and respect for the Constitution.
“Who decides what news is misleading or inaccurate or disrespectful? To allow the government to decide this would set us on the road to dictatorship,” said Nabila.
LFL’s statement did not cite any specific instances where the MCMC’s enforcement powers were abused or unjustified action was taken.
On Sept 22, the MCMC justified its Sept 20 decision to demand amendments to or the withdrawal of an article published by MalaysiaNow, which has, at the time of writing, still ignored the request.
The MCMC said the article in question had reported Parliamentary proceedings out of context with the intent to “spread hatred or incite provocation”.
The commission expressed concern that some media organisations were “weaponising” news to “fuel disrespectful and divisive narratives” and “spread disinformation”.
In view of this, media organisations are urged to adhere to the MCMC’s content code.
“By adhering to the Content Code, media practitioners can ensure responsible reporting and avoid crossing the legal boundaries of free speech,” said the MCMC.
Putrajaya is currently working on a bill to establish a media council that will act as a self-regulatory body for the media industry. The bill is expected to be tabled next March. - Mkini
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