KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 — Communication Minister Fahmi Fadzil today insisted that the relaunched Malaysian Code of Ethics for Journalists will not curb the media freedom in the country.

He said some of the criticisms of the revised version of the code were unfair towards the Information Department (JaPen) and the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI), which drafted it.

“If you were to look at the original code of ethics, it includes phrases like to curb communism, which no longer is an issue in Malaysia because they don't no longer exist. So it's a bit anachronistic.

“If you were to compare the two documents, they are almost the same. The preamble is the same. There are still eight key points in the same document. It's nothing to do with curbing media freedom,” he said in a press conference after officiating the Maxis 5G Advanced Trial Showcase at the KLCC Esplanade here.

Advertisement

“So I think sometimes some of the comments that have been made have been unfair to JaPen, and have been unfair to MPI,” he added.

On Tuesday, Fahmi launched the revamped Malaysian Code of Ethics for Journalists, while promising that it will not restrict media freedom of expression but rather a guideline for media agencies to carry out their duties.

Fahmi said that this latest version was drafted after an engagement session with MPI and the National Union of Journalists, Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia as well as representatives of the sponsoring committee of the Media Council.

Advertisement

In response, journalists' group Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm), criticised the move to make adherence to the new code a criterion for a journalist to get accredited, which was never the case before.

Rights group Lawyers For Liberty also condemned Putrajaya for launching the revamped code, calling it a ploy to control and determine what news can be disseminated online.

The director of the lawyers' group, Zaid Malek, said the government should have formed the independent Malaysian Media Council first before approving any codes of ethics to limit government interference.