ARTICLE 19 PRESS STATEMENT – Malaysia: Cease investigations of The Star newspaper and its journalists

Source: Article 19 Facebook

ARTICLE 19 condemns the investigation of five editors and a photographer from The Star newspaper under the Sedition Act and the Penal Code for sedition and religious hate. The Star is being investigated by police for their front page of 27 May, which featured a photograph of Muslims performing their Tarawih prayer (a prayer performed during Ramadan) underneath a summary of a story which was, headlined “Malaysian Terrorist Leader”. The newspaper immediately issued a formal apology on 28 May citing an “error of judgement”.

The Home Ministry issued The Star a show-cause letter on 29 May calling for the newspaper to explain why its publication should not be suspended under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984. This Act seriously limits independence of the media and free expression, giving broad power to the Home Minister to revoke or suspend a permit for any period he considers desirable. Criminal investigations were then opened on 30 May despite an earlier apology published by The Star and the suspension of Editor-in-Chief, Datuk Leanne Goh Lee Yen and Executive Editor, Dorairaj Nadason. Read more

Media Solidarity Festival

Bersempena Hari Kebebasan Akhbar Sedunia, sertai Geramm dan kawan-kawan dari Institute of Journalists Malaysia, Foreign Correspondence Club of Malaysia bagi merayakan semangat solidariti dikalangan para pengamal media. Dengan kerjasama World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-IFRA).

In conjunction with the annual World Press Freedom Day celebration, join Geramm and friends from the Institute of Journalist Malaysia, Foreign Correspondence Club of Malaysia, for a day of solidarity among media practitioners. With support from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-IFRA).

Prescribing press freedom in Malaysia

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Dr Mustafa K. Anuar would still like to believe that the earth is flat so that all the elements of social injustice, bigotry and tyranny on this earth can be pushed off the edge. On this supposedly flat surface, he is a Fellow at the Penang Institute. Pic form the MMO.

MAY 4 — The fact that Malaysia attained the 144th slot in the Reporters Without Borders’ 2017 Press Freedom Ranking of 180 countries leaves a bad taste in the mouth for it obviously indicates Malaysia’s poor standing as far as press freedom and freedom of expression are concerned.

Clearly, this ranking is nothing to be joyous about. If anything, there’s a lot to be concerned about.

It does not come as a surprise though to many of us in the wake of what has happened in recent times when press freedom and other civil liberties encounter immense challenges from the powers-that-be.

Not too long ago, for instance, Malaysian journalists were banned from the Parliament’s lobby area by the Speaker of the otherwise august Dewan Rakyat, thereby preventing them from having direct access to information sought from politicians concerned.

This is the very place where vital issues confronting the nation are often discussed and debated, the results of which would have far-reaching implications on the general public.

And yet, ordinary Malaysians are deprived of such important information when journalists are prevented from seeking answers on their behalf within the lobby area.  Read more

World Press Freedom Day 2017 — Alaleh Eghbali

3 May is World Press Freedom Day. It is a day in honour and in support of one of the most fundamental of rights – freedom of press. The right to express freely and share information without fear of consequences. The right enshrined in Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marking the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of principles for freedom of press compiled by African newspaper journalists in 1991. It is on this day that the governments of the world are reminded to uphold this sacred right, and for people to defend the forth pillar of democracy, the media, from attacks on their independence. 

The United Nations has chosen “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies” as the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day. In times that independent media is under attack, all around the globe, it is more important than ever to remember the principles by which journalists are bound and the invaluable service they offer communities. Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickrematunghe, who was assassinated in 2009, described free media as “a mirror in which the public can see itself sans mascara and styling gel”, adding: “From [them] you learn the state of your nation, and especially its management by the people you elected to give your children a better future”.*

On their part, journalists and media, without whom truth could be long lost in the world of politics and corruption, owe their loyalty to the people. Honesty, impartiality, professional ethics, and a responsibility to provide verified and reliable information are inseparable elements of journalism. There are many who tirelessly work and offer balanced and fair news to the public, abiding by the principles. It is this day that we thank them as citizens who rely on their conscious to know the reality of our world. Read more

Suhakam wants UN treaty on civil, political rights ratified

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said in a statement today in conjunction with World Press Freedom Day that the right to exercise freedom of expression and opinion was imperative for the holistic development of an individual and it was the foundation of every democratic society. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng for the MMO.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 — The National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) called today for Malaysia to accede to the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said in a statement today in conjunction with World Press Freedom Day that the right to exercise freedom of expression and opinion was imperative for the holistic development of an individual and it was the foundation of every democratic society.

“Suhakam has always regarded the media as an essential instrument that has the potential to contribute immensely to the promotion and protection of human rights.

“The media does not only act as a conveyor of information but it also, either intentionally or indirectly, shapes public perception and opinion,” he said.

Razali noted that Article 19 of the ICCPR provides that everyone has the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”. Read more

Censorship keeping Malaysians in their ‘cocoon’, says activist

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Lena Hendry said screenings of human rights documentaries ― generally not shown on television channels ― are important to create greater awareness for a better society. ― Pictures by Choo Choy May for the MMO.

PETALING JAYA, April 30 ― Banning the screening of documentaries keeps Malaysians inside their “cocoons” instead of learning more about the world, a local activist has said.

Lena Hendry said screenings of human rights documentaries ― generally not shown on television channels ― are important to create greater awareness for a better society.

“So how do we actually show these films to society, to actually say there’s something happening in your backyard. The indigenous people are being persecuted; the plantation workers are evicted from their homes; there is an urban poor community. How is society going to know when these films are not going to be allowed to be screened?” she asked at a public forum on film censorship last week.

From her personal experience, Hendry said there were multiple obstacles that impeded the local screening of documentaries that presented an alternative to the accepted portrayal that made it seem as if such screenings posed a “threat to national security”. Read more

Activist: 3 charged every week under Communications Act

Source: FMT News

Pic taken from FMT News

Pic taken from FMT News

KUALA LUMPUR: Human rights activists say more people will likely be charged under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) as it is too vague and open to interpretation.

Speaking at the launch of a legal analysis on the Act today, Suaram representative Dobby Chew said about three people were charged every week.

“Some cases are very mundane,” he added.

“How can we protect these people? They can be people on the street, on the bus, writing on Facebook,” he said at the event, which was organised by Article 19, a Malaysian organisation that advocates freedom of expression and information.

Human rights lawyer Firdaus Husni added that the Act was open to interpretation.

“The law must be clear and precise. It should not be against political dissent. It will not encourage freedom of speech and expression.

“In fact, it will bring about selective prosecution,” she said.

Meanwhile, Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights representative Edmond Bon said the government should publish guidelines so that the Act was not open to abuse.

Such guidelines should state when and how the provisions in the Act were applicable, he said.

Also present at the event, held at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, was rights activist Khalid Ismath who is facing 11 charges under the CMA. Read more

Article 19 Legal Analysis of Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Act

Source: Article 19

In February 2017, ARTICLE 19 analysed the Communications and Multimedia Act of Malaysia (the Act) for its compliance with international human rights standards, in particular the right to freedom of expression.

The Act has an expansive scope, ranging from spectrum allocation and consumer protection to content regulation and investigatory powers. The main subjects of regulation under the Act are applications services and network services. The Act further pertains to content applications services, which appear to include online intermediaries. The governmental actors involved in the administration of the Act are “the Minister charged with responsibility for communications and media” and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, which is established under the Act.

Launching Of Article

In the analysis, ARTICLE 19 concludes that the Act creates a number of overly broad content-related offences. In addition, the licensing scheme for network and applications services lacks adequate safeguards against censorship. Finally, the Act introduces far-reaching investigatory powers which are at odds with the protection of journalistic sources and the right to anonymity.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Malaysian Government to urgently review the Act, introduce necessary amendments and ensure it fully complies with the international freedom of expression standards. Read more

The Malaysian Insider to return as The Malaysian Insight


HAKAM comment: HAKAM welcomes the return of Jahabar Sadiq and the new TMI (The Malaysian Insight). Media Freedom in Malaysia is only meaningful if there are more players and movers with the 2 essentials : courage and journalistic integrity. Let us support our news men and women, they play an important role in democracy as part of the checks and balances.

Source: The Straits Times

Ex-Malaysian Insider editor Jahabar Sadiq is behind the new venture, The Malaysian Insight. Pic taken from ST.

Ex-Malaysian Insider editor Jahabar Sadiq is behind the new venture, The Malaysian Insight. Pic taken from ST.

The Malaysian Insider, a widely followed online news site that was forced to close just over a year ago by Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration, is set to make a comeback under a new masthead, The Malaysian Insight.

Mr Jahabar Sadiq, former editor of The Malaysian Insider and now the principal mover of the new venture, told The Straits Times that The Malaysian Insight will go online before the end of the month “as a free site before introducing a paywall sometime down the line”.

In a country where the ruling political elite controls most media outlets, Mr Jahabar said the new venture would be independent in its editorial stance, even at the risk of upsetting the government, which forced its closure in March last year because of a story related to the scandal-plagued state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Unlike print publications, which require publishing licences from the government, online media outlets in Malaysia do not require an operating permit.

However, the official Internet watchdog agency, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), has sweeping powers to block sites that are deemed to be acting against the national interest.

Malaysian media analysts said a new player like The Malaysian Insight is likely to shake up the market where print and online news outlets are battling sharp drops in circulation and readership. Read more

Recognise our efforts by letting us report freely, journalists tell minister

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 10 — Media practitioners welcomed today a federal minister’s proposal for a National Journalists’ Day to celebrate their profession, but said it should not deviate from the fundamental constraints they face in carrying out their job daily.

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) said that it “cautiously welcomed” the idea mooted by Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak yesterday.

“While recognition for the work that journalists do and the role of the Fourth Estate is welcomed, IoJ stresses that such celebrations should not distract from fundamental issues concerning media freedom,” it said in a statement.

It pointed out that Malaysia still ranks only 146th in the World Press Freedom Index, and that journalists still face threats of criminal action by authorities, including the use of Sedition Act, in their line of work. Read more