Zahid: Govt to discuss media self-regulation

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PUTRAJAYA — The federal government is prepared to engage news editors to discuss the possibility of a self-regulating media body, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said yesterday.

He said the government will also look at improvements to the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) after the 14th general election.

“We must make sure the freedom to write and publish is not very restrictive according to current guidelines,” Zahid said during a luncheon with editors here.

He said he recognised the need to improve provisions of the Act as well as adopt changes that address the current climate in the news industry.

Zahid said he would meet media stakeholders to deliberate the possibility of setting up a press ombudsman or a media council.

“We would have to sit down together after the elections and discuss how to go forward on these main issues,” he said.

He said the Home Ministry must not be seen as an “authority” that is trying to restrict the press, but rather as a stakeholder for the media industry.

Zahid also said Putrajaya will engage with organisations that determine the World Press Freedom Index so that they understand the real level of press freedom in the country.

“The problem is sometimes these organisations are given feedback by parties that are generally anti-establishment, which leads to a low rating. So we have to engage with them,” he said.

Malaysia is ranked 144th in Reporters Sans Frontiers’ World Press Freedom Index 2017.