Statement: Formation of a Malaysian Media Council Journalists Alliance

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Malaysia, Institute of Journalists (IOJ) Malaysia, Gerakan Media Merdeka (GERAMM), Sabah Journalists Association and Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia (FCCM) have agreed to work together on a proposal on the setting up of a Malaysian media council.

It has come to our attention that a proposal for such a council is being submitted to the government by a group of publishers in the media industry.

While we welcome the formation of a media council, neither the contents of this proposal were made public or shared with all journalists, nor were we invited to take part in its consultative process. We cannot endorse any submitted proposal that has not been seen or reviewed in detail by journalists at all levels of the industry.

We believe it is essential that journalists be involved as they are the largest stakeholders in the media landscape, and have driven the formation of media councils around the world.

As such, we believe that the time has come to form a Malaysian Media Council Journalists Alliance, with the intent of pushing a proposal to the government by April 2019. This is to ensure that journalists’ interests are represented in the government’s pre-stated intentions to form a media council.

To further ensure those interests are met, we call upon all journalists to participate in our Media Council Survey at https://goo.gl/sDczm1. This survey will close on March 31st 2019, and results will be considered heavily in the Alliance’s proposal.

We also call upon interest groups to contact us at geramm.media@gmail.com if they are interested in being part of this Alliance by March 31st 2019. Please note that we are only considering representatives of journalist interest groups, and not individuals.

We would also like to acknowledge the efforts taken by non-governmental organisations such as the Centre for Independent Journalism and the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights in facilitating the discourse on the setting up of the media council this week. This has resulted in the reported announcement on a formation of a steering committee involving our groups.

However, we would like to clarify that not all of us have committed to their process. While some of us may continue to be part of external discussions on the bill, such as the CIJ-MCCHR initiative, any proposal will be taken back to our alliance of journalists for final endorsement or amendments, if need be. This resulting document is what will be backed by our groups rather than any produced by external stakeholders.

We also believe that any effort towards the creation of a media council will be futile if it’s not in tandem with the repeal and/or amendment of certain repressive laws such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

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