The Malaysian Media Council pro-tem committee, which held its first meeting last Thursday, agreed to expand its membership.
In a statement today, pro-tem committee chairperson Premesh Chandran said this is to ensure that important stakeholders are involved in the drafting of the media council bill.
The new members are Media Chinese International Group's PC Liew, NSTP group editor Lokman Mansor, University of Nottingham's Prof Zaharom Nain, NUJ vice-president Farah Marshita Abdul Patah, Sabah Journalist Association president Muguntan Vanar, Federation of Sarawak Journalists Associations president Jacqueline Radoi David and SS Yoga, who will be representing Sabah and Sarawak.
Apart from this, Premesh said the pro-tem committee held a robust discussion on the scope of the proposed media council as well as laws that would need to be abolished or amended for the council to work in an effective manner.
The discussion, he disclosed, also focused on how to incorporate the interests of various stakeholders, including the media industry, journalists, government and public.
“The committee acknowledged the differing perspectives among stakeholders while affirming that all parties are in favour of an independent, responsible and professional media industry,” he added.
Premesh (photo), who is Malaysiakini's chief executive officer, said the committee agreed to work towards a draft bill that would encompass the following principles:
- The scope of the media council shall cover all forms of media including print, broadcast and online and shall cover private as well as public-owned media.
- The media council will not cover individual speech on social media or blogs, for which other laws currently or should cover.
- Participation in the media council will be on a volunteer or opt-in basis, there will have to be sufficient benefits and incentives for the media industry to participate.
- Laws that curb press freedom or inhibit good journalistic practices will have to be abolished.
- The media council will have a code of conduct for media as well as a proper grievance procedure.
- The media council will also look into the overall sustainability of the media industry, improving journalism standards and media literacy.
According to Premesh, various sub-committees have been formed to develop the principles above and to report back to the pro-tem committee, which would meet again in two weeks.
On Jan 16, Communication and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo announced the formation of the media council.
Others on the committee include Chamil Wariya and Yong Soo Hong from the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI) and National Press Club chairperson Ahirudin Attan.
There are also representatives from the Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm), Institute of Journalists Malaysia, National Union of Journalists Malaysia (NUJM), Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia (FCCM) and one representative each from Sabah and Sarawak.
Also on board is the media NGO Centre for Independent Journalism as well as various media owners.