The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) is deeply concerned by the government’s continuous use of provisions under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 to restrict media freedom in the country.
Yesterday, officers from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) raided the offices of Malaysiakini and seized computers over a video published by their video arm KiniTV in July.
Authorities have again relied on Section 233 of the CMA to carry out investigations against Malaysiakini, the same provision used by the MCMC to indefinitely block access to The Malaysian Insider in February this year.
The provision, which criminalises “improper use of network facilities”, is vague in nature and the use of the provision against media entities also goes against the government’s pledge that there will be no censorship of the Internet.
It is understood that the raid was initiated over a video that recorded politician Khairuddin Abu Hassan uttering an offensive word at a press conference he held in July this year. The word, however, has since been removed from the video.
The IoJ stresses that Malaysiakini and its video arm KiniTV were merely carrying out their duty of reporting an event of public interest and should not be subjected to such pressures from the authorities.
The Institute also notes that this is the second raid carried out on Malaysiakini’s offices in two years.
Last year, both Malaysiakini and The Star Online’s offices were raided over a news news report regarding the alleged transfer of a deputy public prosector from the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC).
The use of criminal laws against news organisations for running stories of public interest is unacceptable and could be construed as an act of intimidation.
The IoJ maintains its position that aggrieved parties have every opportunity to engage media organisations over any dispute related to a news report, failing which they have the option to pursue legal recourse through the civil court.
The IoJ urges the MCMC to cease and desist from conducting such raids and to respect media and internet freedom as enshrined under the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC)’s Bill of Guarantees.
The Institute of Journalists Malaysia
November 9, 2016.