Media council plans to be tabled to cabinet soon - Gobind
Malaysia Kini September 12, 2019
The Communications and Multimedia Ministry is in the process of preparing a cabinet paper for a law to set-up an independent Malaysian Media Council. Its minister, Gobind Singh Deo told reporters today that the process to obtain the cabinet's approval could be done from as early as next week. "I can say that at present I am preparing a paper to be brought to the cabinet on the media council. "I hope that I'm able to table it soon to the cabinet," said Gobind who earlier delivered a speech at a Unesco "Open Talk" session on access to information, held in conjunction with the third annual NextBigTechAsia Conference in Kuala Lumpur. "I expect it (the cabinet paper) to be ready soon...by this week, next week but definitely by the end of the year," he added. Four separate groups representing working journalists, publishers and editors, civil society groups, and the National Press Club had submitted versions of a draft law earlier this year to guide the formation of an independent media council. It was understood the ministry would further consult the groups after obtaining cabinet approval and come up with draft Bill to be tabled in parliament. Following the first stakeholders meeting at the Attorney-General's Chambers in June, Gobind indicated a year-end target for the formation of the press council. Earlier in his speech, Gobind reiterated the importance of a free press, and the media council's role as a self-regulatory body that would set the standards for the media community to build and maintain trust in the industry. "The media, being an influential force in democracies, is referred to as the ‘fourth estate’ for good reason. "It is important to have media that is free to report the truth, even if it may be in the form of criticism of the government," said Gobind who credited the media for creating and disseminating information. In the event of any disputes, Gobind said the media council would also act as an arbitration body between the public and the media in the interests of all Malaysians. "As a government that respects and promotes the freedom of information and expression, we not only expect high standards from all stakeholders but that it must come with a heavy responsibility to propagate credible news and information. "This credibility is much needed in order for us to build honest and truthful journalism which inspires trust - a most important benchmark in the media industry today and the future," he said. The Open Talk session today was also held in conjunction with Unesco's International Day for Universal Access to Information themed "Access to Information – Leaving No One Behind!".