Malaysian Media Council plan progresses with pro tem committee established

PUTRAJAYA: Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo (seated centre) takes a picture with media practitioners after chairing a meeting at his ministry here today in conjunction with the forming of the Malaysian Media Council (MMC). Seated on his left is
the prime minister’s Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Datuk Kadir Jasin, on his right is Sec Gen of his ministry Datuk Suriani Ahmad. MMC’s pro tem committee Chairman Premesh Chandran is seated fifth from the right. The CEO of BERNAMA Nurini Kassim is standing fifth from the left and the Editor-in-Chief of BERNAMA Datuk Mokhtar Hussain is first on left. Also seen seated far right is former General Manager of BERNAMA, Datuk Yong Soo Heong. Photo courtesy of BERNAMA.

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 16 (NNN-BERNAMA) — The formation of the Malaysian Media Council (MMC) received a major boost today with the appointment of 17 representatives from the print, electronic and online media, local and foreign media, journalist associations, and non-governmental organisations as members of its pro tem committee.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo announced the appointments at a meeting on the MMC which he chaired at the ministry here today.

Malaysiakini chief executive officer Premesh Chandran has been appointed the pro tem committee chairman.

“The pro tem committee was formed following the decision of the Cabinet on Dec 6 which agreed with the proposal to set up the media council as a self-regulatory body,” he said at a press conference after the meeting.

Gobind said the appointment of the 17 members was the first step taken in line with a promise in Pakatan Harapan’s 14th general election manifesto to form the media council comprising leading members of the media fraternity.

“The decision is a major step as now efforts to set up the MMC have started moving after being postponed for so long. I understand that the idea for the council was first brought up and discussed 45 years ago,” he said.

“Now, in line with the aspiration of Pakatan Harapan — specifically, promise number 27 — we are setting up a media council comprising media representatives who will be responsible for coordinating the guidelines, ethics and reporting, as well as act as the body to handle complaints and feedback from media practitioners,” he said.

The MMC will cover all types of media in Malaysia  — the print, electronic and online media — which will strengthen media freedom and protect the rights of media practitioners while at the same time ensure more responsible media practices.

Gobind said the committee had two months to discuss and come up with the proposed laws on the council and its functions.

“The committee will look at five areas, namely the objectives and functions of the council, its constitution and membership, the code of ethics, the ways of resolving conflicts, and general provisions, including looking at existing laws which need to be abolished or amended when the council is formed,” he said.

Gobind said he hoped the committee will meet him again with its proposals for submission to the Cabinet.

“I hope we will see the MMC set up at the latest by the end of this year,” he said.

On funding, he said at present the MMC will be fully funded by the media industry but the ministry is willing to discuss other views.

Gobind said Special Adviser on Media and Communications to the Prime Minister Datuk A. Kadir Jasin has been appointed the MMC adviser.

He also announced the appointment of Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) Editor-in-Chief Datuk Mokhtar Hussain as a member of the pro tem committee.

Meanwhile, pro tem committee member Datuk Yong Soo Heong said credit should be given to Gobind for having the political will to see this through and laying the groundwork together with Kadir, to get various media stakeholders to agree on moving this forward.

“The MMC has finally gained traction towards its eventual establishment. It has not been an easy journey and there is still a lot of work to do. We should see something concrete later in the year where the local media industry can be proud of,” said Yong, a Malaysian Press Institute trustee and a former general manager of Bernama.

Other members of the pro tem committee: 

  1. Datuk Dr Chamil Wariya (chief executive officer of the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI) 
  2. Datuk Yong Soo Heong (member of the MPI board of trustees)
  3. Ding Jo Ann (media monitor, Centre For Independent Journalism)
  4. Datuk Ahiruddin Attan (President of the National Press Club)
  5. V. Gayathry (lecturer, Nottingham University)
  6. Kuik Cheng Kang (representative of Editors’ Association of Chinese Medium of Malaysia)
  7. Tehmina Kaoosji (founding member of Journalists Alliance)
  8. Radzi Razak (spokesman of Gerakan Media Merdeka)
  9. Ashwad Ismail (representative of Astro Awani)
  10. Rozaid A. Rahman (representative of The Star)
  11. Jahabar Sadiq ( representative of The Malaysian Insight)
  12. representative from Sabah
  13. representative from Sarawak 
  14. representative from the National Union of Journalists
  15. representative from the Foreign Correspondents Club Malaysia