Report: MCMC fines Astro for airing Al Jazeera documentary on Altantuya murder five years ago

Astro was found guilty of airing the Al Jazeera documentary, which was indecent, with the intention to offend related parties. — Reuters pic
Astro was found guilty of airing the Al Jazeera documentary, which was indecent, with the intention to offend related parties. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — Astro has been fined by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for airing in 2015 an Al Jazeera documentary on the controversial murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Malaysiakini reported today that a notice was sent to Measat Broadcast Network Systems Bhd, which operates Astro on July 7 this year over the airing on September 11, 2015.

The news portal cited the MCMC as saying it fined the satellite television provider as its investigations concluded the content of the document to be indecent and the firm to be in violation of Section 211 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

Section 211 handles “provision of offensive content”, which prohibits content that is “indecent, obscene, false, menacing, or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person”.

“In its letter to Measat, MCMC said the company was found guilty of airing the episode, which was indecent, with the intention to offend related parties.

“As such, the company was fined RM1,000 for each time the episode was aired, totalling RM4,000. The company has 30 days to appeal against the compound,” said the report.

Al Jazeera was criticised by the Perikatan Nasional government over its July 3 documentary Locked up in Malaysia’s Lockdown.

The 2015 documentary about Althantuya’s death was titled Murder in Malaysia and was aired as part of its Asia Pacific current affairs programme, 101 East.

Murder in Malaysia linked the October 2006 murder of Altantuya to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and its producer Mary Ann Jolley was deported from Malaysia during its production five years ago.

Najib, who was the prime minister at that time, denied the allegation. The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement at that time denying Najib had ever met or had any communication with the slain Mongolian model.

"This allegation is intentionally misleading, and has been used to perpetuate baseless conspiracy theories," the PMO had said then.

In 2018, Najib, in an interview with Jolley, told her she was deported because she was a "nuisance" and was "making lies".

Yesterday, the National Film Development Corporation (Finas) said Al Jazeera did not have the necessary licences to film Locked Up in Malaysia's Lockdown.

“From the findings of preliminary investigations, Finas found that that company does not have a Film Production Licence and that there was no application for a Certificate for Filming for the filming of that documentary,” Finas said in the statement posted on its official Facebook page.

“Finas will give its full cooperation to the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) in carrying out investigations against Al Jazeera (M) Sdn Bhd under Section 22(1) of the Perbadanan Kemajuan Filem Nasional Malaysia Act 1981 (Amendment 2013) for carrying out filming activities, that is the activity of producing a documentary film without a valid licence from Finas,” it concluded.

On Sunday, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah reportedly said that its ministry is checking whether Al Jazeera had violated media accreditation conditions.

Saifuddin was also reported saying that the Information Department will cancel Al Jazeera’s media accreditation if it was found to have violated such conditions, noting that the crew would not be free to go anywhere without the media cards issued by the department.

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