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Spotlight on Al Jazeera’s ‘filming licence’ may open a Pandora’s Box

Investigations against international news organisation Al Jazeera are intensifying with a rarely enforced law on filming permissions now being invoked.

Yesterday, the National Film Development Corporation (Finas) announced that Al Jazeera’s documentary titled "Locked Up in Malaysia's Lockdown" did not have the necessary paperwork and was being investigated.

Under Section 22(1) of the Perbadanan Kemajuan Filem Nasional Malaysia Act 1981, producing, exhibiting or distributing a film required a licence from Finas. The subsequent subsection states that a licence can be denied without any reason given.

A violation of this law may result in a maximum two years imprisonment, a maximum RM50,000 fine or both.

Should prosecutors eventually apply this law against Al Jazeera, it may have a far-reaching impact on the media industry and perhaps even on individuals.

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