The Centre for Independent Journalism is a non-profit organisation promoting media independence and freedom of expression in Malaysia.
The government has been urged to end all measures that threaten and punish the media, and silence opinion.
Instead, it should move ahead with the proposal to set up an independent self-regulatory body for the media, according to the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ).
The CIJ, a media watchdog, also pledged to stand with Malaysiakini, now facing contempt proceedings in the Federal Court. The court proceedings were initiated by Attorney-General Tan Sri Idrus Harun over comments made by readers on the news portal.
In a statement issued yesterday, CIJ said any attempt to punish a news portal for comments left by its readers is “grossly disproportionate” with any legitimate aim to protect public order and a “serious threat” to freedom of expression.
According to Malaysiakini, such comments were removed when requested by police a few days later.
CIJ said the government should set up a Malaysian Media Council to act as a transparent and independent self-regulatory body for the industry.
It said it is holding a watching brief in the court proceedings against Malaysiakini and its editor-in-chief Steven Gan.
Yesterday, the Federal Court quashed Malaysiakini’s application for the contempt proceedings to be struck out. Hearing is set for July 13 in Putrajaya.
“Freedom of speech and expression underpins the fundamental right to seek and exchange ideas, opinions and information that will enable the public to form its own opinions, and allow for dissenting or alternative positions, specifically on issues of public interest,” CIJ said.
It added limits must be clearly and narrowly defined to serve the public interest.