KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 — A Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government would reverse laws and policies that restrict press freedom in Malaysia, said DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.
The Penang PH chairman said the fourth estate in Malaysia has been prevented for decades from performing its function as a watchdog of the government.
“A free media is crucial in providing a level playing field for all political actors and for the public (stake-holders) to hold the power-holders accountable,” he said in a statement issued in conjunction with World Press Freedom Day today.
He said this year’s World Press Freedom Day theme — “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law” — is very apt given the current climate in the country.
Lim also recalled that PH promised in its election manifesto to ensure that the local press will be allowed to serve as a check-and-balance to the government.
A PH government would set up a media council comprising media figures, which will be responsible for developing and implementing a code of ethics on reporting, he reiterated.
Lim said the PH government would also abolish the Sedition Act 1948, Prevention of Crime Act 1959, Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, National Security Council Act 2016 and mandatory death by hanging.
“The Pakatan Harapan government will also abolish draconian provisions in the Penal Code 1997 especially on peaceful assembly and activities harmful to democracy, Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, Security Offences (special measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA), Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 and Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) 2015.
He accused the caretaker Barisan Nasional administration of hurriedly passing the Anti-Fake News Act to curb the media and alternative voices on social media.
He said the Press Freedom Index showed that Malaysia has remained in the bottom of the list of over 170 countries, with no improvements to show.
Lim claimed that the tightly-controlled mainstream media has been openly campaigning for BN, accusing these of distortion and lies, even before Parliament was dissolved.