In conjunction with World Press Freedom Day, a coalition of journalist associations has launched its draft proposal for the Malaysian Media Council.
In a statement today, media watchdog Geramm welcomed feedback on the document from media professionals and the public.
It also welcomed comments on its proposed ethics code for the press.
“With representation from media practitioners, media owners and other stakeholders, it is hoped that a Malaysian Media Council will pave the way towards publication of more reports which are of public interest.
“Self-regulation based on a journalism code of ethics should be the catalyst towards a new media landscape in a new Malaysia,” said the NGO.
All feedback can be forwarded to [email protected] from now until May 15.
The drafts were a joint effort by Geramm, the National Union of Journalists, the Institute of Journalists, the Federation of Sarawak Journalists Association, the Kuching Division Journalists Association, and the Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia.
Next, the proposals will be submitted to the relevant government agencies.
Since 1974, Malaysian media have been advocating for a self-regulatory body similar to the legal profession’s Bar Council and the medical profession’s Medical Council.
The Malaysian Press Institute had submitted a report and draft bill to the government in 2001. However, the initiative was later aborted when Putrajaya refused to change restrictive media laws.
Pakatan Harapan had promised in its election manifesto that such a council would finally see the light of day, should it win GE14.
A Kadir Jasin, who is Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s communications and media adviser, previously stated that the government possessed the political will to set up a media council, and hoped that it would be formed this year.
Last month, a working group representing Malaysian publishers and editors had also put forward a proposal to establish a media council.
Journalism in New M’sia
In its statement, Geramm welcomed Malaysia’s improved press freedom rankings but highlighted challenges that the media faced under the Harapan administration.
“Since taking over federal power, altercations between the media and those who did not understand how the media operates have happened on numerous occasions.
“When faced with backlash due to their own statements, the media is accused of spinning the sensational elements, or worse, having a hidden agenda to launch personal attacks against an individual.
“It is most regrettable if in the era of New Malaysia, there remains 'voices' out to restrict the media's role or to influence reports from any media agencies, as a way to protect their personal interests or the interests of an individual,” it said, stopping short of providing specific examples.
Several media practitioners working at BN-linked organisations had also lost their jobs after the firms closed or downsized, Geramm noted.
Furthermore, it called upon all media practitioners to uphold high journalistic standards to ensure their credibility.
“The principles and ethics of journalism must be held paramount above any political leanings or other personal considerations in order to ensure our industry remains relevant and that the most accurate information will be delivered to readers or viewers,” said Geramm.