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Study of PPPA after  the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers had made derogatory references about  online media very “ominous” sign that media freedom and MSC Bill of Guarantee of “no internet censorship” facing  critical test


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

, Thursday) The announcement by the Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow of a study of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) should be  a cause of joy as it had been the target of criticisms and attacks down the years by media practitioners and human rights advocates as the centerpiece of the arsenal of  suppression of press freedom in the country.


But this is not the case. In fact, the announcement has aroused widespread concern as it was made in the context of how to “narrow the gap” between print and internet media - not in terms of how to make the print media more relevant, independent and reliable as compared to online media, but how to curb and conscribe the independence and freedom of the  current internet media to make them into a pale shadow of the print media.


Nobody believes that any PPPA study will lift the printed media to the level of internet media to achieve greater independence and relevance, as everybody is convinced that it would be the other round, to bring down internet media to the level of printed media by tying them up with new restrictions.


This ominous feeling that the PPPA study  can do no good whatsoever for the promotion for greater media freedom is reinforced by the various pronouncements by the powers-that-be at the two-day Internal Security Ministry’s Mass Media Conference 2006 with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi taking the lead in  warning about the abuse  of the press although he assured the media that the government will not rush to take action against them every time there was a complaint.


One message is clear from  the two-day Internal Security Ministry’s Mass Media Conference 2006 (the Internal Security Ministry organizing a Mass Media Conference is an oxymoron – as the Internal Security Ministry can only concerned with controls and not media freedom) that the printed media are legitimate while the online media are illegitimate in the media world.


Ten years ago, Malaysia launched the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) to make the quantum leap to be at the cutting edge of global  information technology revolution – but our  mindset and mentality has failed to match such an ambition to the extent that 10 years later the government could host a conference based on the fallacy that printed media are legitimate and online media including blogs are illegitimate!

If Malaysia had been true to our MSC ambitions, the country should be hosting a global conference on how internet media is setting the pace for terrestrial media – despite the many abuses and shortcomings of the former – instead of trying to downgrade the legitimacy of internet media.


The study of PPPA after  the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers had made derogatory references about  online media is therefore very “ominous”  sign  that media freedom and the the MSC Bill of Guarantee of no internet censorship is  facing a critical test.


I call on the Prime Minister to give a clear-cut assurance that there will be no violation or deviation from the MSC Bill of Guarantee of “no internet censorship”.


Better still, he should establish a Commission including media representatives from both printed and internet media to conduct a proper study of the PPPA with the specific term of reference to free the media from the present fetters of control and censorship to promote an independent and vibrant media, in keep with the 10-year MSC ambition to be at the cutting edge of global ICT revolution.



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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