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KUCHING, March 7: Several journalist groups from across the country have banded together to form the Malaysian Media Council Journalists Alliance and are working on a proposal to set up a Malaysian media council.
The alliance, in a joint statement today, said it was essential that journalists be involved in drawing up such proposal, as they are the largest stakeholders in the media landscape and have driven the formation of media councils around the world.
The journalist groups involved in the alliance included 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),
“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,” the statement read.
The groups believed 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.
“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 (CIJ-MCCHR) 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.”
The alliance agreed that while some of the members might continue to be part of external discussions on the bill, such as the CIJ-MCCHR initiative, any proposal will be taken back to its alliance of journalists for final endorsement or amendments, if needed.
This resulting document will be backed by the groups rather than any produced by external stakeholders, the statement continued.
“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.”
The alliance called upon journalists to participate in its Media Council Survey at https://goo.gl/sDczm1, which closes at the end of the month with results to be considered heavily in the proposal.
Journalist groups interested in being part of the alliance may contact its representative at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 31, 2019. — DayakDaily