Give precise reports on human rights issues, journalists, editors told

Source: Malaysiakini

International, regional and local journalists and editors are under a professional duty to report and explain human rights issues as precisely as they can.

Communication and Multimedia Ministry secretary-general Sharifah Zarah Syed Ahmad said they were responsible to give the facts, avoid bias and provide context.

“At present, this is not done well enough and as a result, audience that rely on media information are not in a position to understand or judge properly the actions and policies of governments and other authorities, especially pertaining to human rights,” she said.

Her speech text was read out by the ministry’s international division under-secretary, S Letchumanan, during the Regional Forum on Media and Human Rights in Asean in Kuala Lumpur today. Read more

Nine NGOs demand internet freedom

Source: FMT News

Nine NGOs urge all stakeholders to defend internet freedom and to keep it free from arbitrary and abusive regulations.

Nine NGOs urge all stakeholders to defend internet freedom and to keep it free from arbitrary and abusive regulations.

KUALA LUMPUR: Nine organizations, led by the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) Malaysia, want all stakeholders to defend internet freedom and to keep it free from arbitrary and abusive regulations. “We must remind the powers that be that Malaysia is committed to no censorship of the internet when the industry started,” said the nine in a joint statement. “Any policy change must be done with thorough negotiation and consultation with civil society.”

“The Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) should not have discretion to block content.”

Instead, said the organizations, its actions should be governed by its ten policy objectives.

These include creating a vibrant civil community, establishing Malaysia as a major global centre and hub for communications and multimedia information and content services, and creating robust applications environment for end users. “Decisions to restrict freedom of information and expression should follow due process of and law and international standards and norms,” said the statement. “It should be clear, least restrictive, necessary and proportionate. This at the very minimum requires a court order.” Read more

Free speech on a leash — Gurdial Singh Nijar

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY GURDIAL SINGH NIJAR
(Deputy President, HAKAM)

Activist Hishamuddin Rais after having his jail term set aside by the Court of Appeal - photo by Yusof Mat Isa

Activist Hishamuddin Rais after having his jail term set aside by the Court of Appeal – photo by Yusof Mat Isa

MAY 16 — The gallery broke out into a thunderous applause when the Court of Appeal today set aside the nine-month jail sentence against activist Hishamuddin Rais and substituted it for the maximum fine allowed under the Sedition Act. Relief indeed! But the conviction was maintained. Despite what appeared to many as convincing arguments by his counsel that there was no basis for the conviction.

Hisham was charged for a speech at a Bersih rally at the end of which he urged 3 resolutions to be presented to political leaders: reject the outcome of the then concluded general election; reform the election commission; and hold re-election of some 20 odd seats. To make his point he had called upon the 200 odd crowd to go to the streets. Really quite innocuous demands. (Even US presidential candidates Sanders and Trump have complained of rigged electoral process in their election bid.)

But he was charged – and convicted – for seeking to overthrow the government through unlawful means. Under a provision of the Sedition Act – section 3(1)(b) that makes it an offence to seek to overthrow the government by non-lawful means – basically intended for such offences as inciting an insurrection by such non-lawful means as an armed revolt.

Now, how possibly can anyone, least of all the apex court (as the case commenced in the Sessions Court – construe Hisham’s speech by any stretch of the imagination, as a call to arms or such like? Read more

Hisham Rais escapes prison time, fined RM5,000 for sedition conviction

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Activist Hishamuddin Rais arrives at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya, May 16, 2016. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Activist Hishamuddin Rais arrives at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya, May 16, 2016. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, May 16 ― The Court of Appeal today overturned the previous High Court’s decision in sentencing activist Hishamuddin Rais to nine months in prison for sedition.

The three-panel judge led by Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat upheld an earlier Sessions Court’s decision to slap Hishamuddin with a RM5,000 fine.

“This is an unanimous decision, we find no reason to dismiss the appeal on the conviction,” Judge Tengku Maimun said in the courtroom.

“(But) we find no reason to disturb the Sessions Court’s decision on the sentence. The Sessions Court applied correct sentencing… the sentence of nine months set aside.”

Outside the courtroom, Hishamuddin thanked his lawyers and relatives for helping him throughout the ordeal.

“The court just now has proven that my speech did not need to land me jail time,” he said to his supporters who chanted “Hidup rakyat”. Read more

Group wants to see proposed Internet laws before Parliament debate

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Just last year alone, a total of 1,263 websites were blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. — File pic

Just last year alone, a total of 1,263 websites were blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 — The National Human Rights Society (Hakam) today urged the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to allow civil society to view its proposed amendments to Internet laws here before tabling them to the Dewan Rakyat.

In a statement, Hakam secretary-general Robyn Choi noted that the amendments to the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 have yet to be publicly revealed but were due for tabling in the current parliamentary meeting.

“Hakam fears that the proposed amendments will most likely have the effect of further stifling freedom of speech online through the usual means of (a) regulating online content; (b) licensing and registration requirements for news providers and bloggers; (c) additional enforcement powers; (d) widening the range of offences; and (e) imposing stiffer fines and harsher penalties for existing offences,” Choi said.

She claimed that over the past two years, Putrajaya has already been interfering with free speech through the increased blocking of media websites, the intensified questioning and arrests of activists, journalists, lawyers and even cartoonists over online content, as well as the passing of tougher laws regulating online expression.

Just last year alone, a total of 1,263 websites were blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) while between January and February this year, a further 399 sites were blocked and 22 people called for questioning, Choi added. Read more

Maria Chin barred from leaving Malaysia at KLIA

Source: NST Online

Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah was barred from leaving the country on Sunday night. Pix by NSTP/YAZIT RAZALI

Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah was barred from leaving the country on Sunday night. Pix by NSTP/YAZIT RAZALI

PETALING JAYA: Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah was barred from leaving the country on Sunday night.

She was about to fly from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to South Korea, where she is scheduled to receive the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights award.

The Bersih 2.0 official Twitter account @bersih2 tweeted on Sunday night: “BERSIH Chair, @mariachin just been barred from leaving the country. She suppose (sic) to receive Gwangju Award from Korea.”

The reason given was that it was “arahan Putrajaya” (instruction from Putrajaya).

The electoral reforms group had since condemned the order and demanded an explanation from Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

STATEMENT: Online Freedom and Bill to Amend the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA)

pdfSTATEMENT DATED 16 MAY 2016

ONLINE FREEDOM AND BILL TO AMEND THE COMMUNICATIONS AND MULTIMEDIA ACT 1998 (CMA)

HAKAM views with disquiet the news reports that the government plans to further regulate the use of the internet, especially online media, through amendments to the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA). The Bill to amend the CMA is expected to be tabled at the next Parliament sitting which commences on 16th May.

The specific CMA amendments sought have not been made public. HAKAM fears that the proposed amendments will most likely have the effect of further stifling freedom of speech online through the usual means of (a) regulating online content; (b) licensing and registration requirements for news providers and bloggers; (c) additional enforcement powers; (d) widening the range of offences; and (e) imposing stiffer fines and harsher penalties for existing offences.

In the past two years, the government had severely interfered with freedom of speech through increased blocking of media websites both local and international, intensified questioning and/or arrests of activists, journalists, lawyers and cartoonists over online content and the passing of a series of tougher laws with stiffer penalties for offences to do with online expression. Read more

Tell Parliament why Maria Chin barred from leaving Malaysia, Putrajaya urged

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 ― Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail today urged Putrajaya for an explanation in Parliament on its reasons for prohibiting Bersih 2.0’s Maria Chin Abdullah from travelling abroad.

Dr Wan Azizah, who is also PKR president, pointed out that Chin had only wanted to leave the country to accept the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in South Korea on behalf of the polls watchdog she chairs.

“This latest move is another act of desperation of Barisan Nasional in inhibiting Malaysians to travel freely, and willfully.

“Instead of the government standing in our way in building a better country, I urge our government to join us and build a better Malaysia,” she said in a statement.

Today with the start of Parliament, I shall call for a protest for this shameful desperate act and demand a full explanation on the reasons for denying Maria Chin her constitutional right of travel,” she added. Read more