The committee to meet minister to discuss the matter. Photo: Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: The proposed draft Bill on the establishment of the Malaysian Media Council, which among others aims to uphold and promote media freedom and a legislative and regulatory environment conducive for that purpose, was submitted to the Communications and Multimedia ministry last month.

Council pro-tem committee chairman Premesh Chandran said the draft Bill, along with a report that sets out the establishment of the council via a parliamentary Act, was submitted on August 3.

The committee will meet Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah on Sept 11 to further discuss the matter.

Premesh said the pro-tem committee also anticipates a period of discussion and feedback before the council can be finally established.

“When the proposal is presented there will be a feedback mechanism with the involvement of the Attorney General’s Chambers as well as other ministries such as the Home Ministry where current laws (relating to media) are situated.

“We do anticipate a period of discussion with the government, but we are keen to know whether in principle the current government is in favour of the media council or they have some other view,” he told Bernama recently.

The report and draft Bill are open for public review and comments at mediacouncil.my (English version) and majlismedia.my (Bahasa version).

According to Premesh, the proposed Bill also recommends all members of the media industry to be entitled as members of the council, while membership will also be open to the members of the public who are concerned about the media.

“We are recommending forming a council via membership so that those who are publishers, media owners, media practitioners as well as those outside the media which represent public interest like non-governmental organisations can join us,” he added.

Elaborating on the report submitted, Premesh said it also comes with a recommendation for the amendment and abolishment of certain laws that are currently restricting media freedom.

“We feel that in order to create media self-regulation (council) certain laws such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, as well as the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 needs to be amended,” he said.

Premesh said apart from enhancing media freedom, the setting up of the council has a broader purpose, especially in tackling industry issues as a whole.

“Beyond looking at the regulatory aspects, we also need to recognise that the industry is in financial trouble and we can see a lot of retrenchments and other issues.

“So, in order for us to safeguard the health of the industry, it is prudent that the media council is formed and therefore we can tackle the issues of sustainability together with others,” he said. – Bernama