COMMENT | In its manifesto, the incoming Pakatan Harapan administration has promised to repeal oppressive legislations like the sedition and publication laws within 100 days of coming to power. It is easier said than done as there are legislative hurdles to overcome first.
In any case we cannot hope to restore press freedom by merely repealing oppressive laws layer by layer, just like peeling onions.
Repeal of oppressive laws by itself is no guarantee that new ones that may equally undermine press freedom would not be re-introduced later. A case of the law giveth, the law taketh away.
Press freedom is nebulous in nature, and every country, even communist regimes, proclaim that they uphold it. Just as we can’t hold water in the hollow of our palm for long, press freedom invariably eludes us. But freedom of the press, just like other civil liberties, are our basic human rights that must be accorded constitutional protection, nonetheless. This is our expectation.
Major overhaul needed
Media reform must, therefore, begin with a major overhaul. Let’s begin with amending the Federal Constitution to provide for a constitutional guarantee for freedom of the press. This can be done by including a provision for constitutional protection for press freedom in that no law shall be passed that would abridge or undermine such freedom....