Set up media council now, urges CIJ after probe on Al Jazeera
July 20, 2020
The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) wants the immediate establishment of the Malaysian Media Council in the wake of the investigation into Al Jazeera’s accreditation and licence following its “Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown” documentary.
Responding to Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah’s announcement on the investigation yesterday, CIJ executive director Wathshlah G Naidu said there is an urgent need for the council as a transparent and independent self-regulatory body for the industry.
“(This is) to avoid the government and its agencies from becoming the sole arbiter of truth.
“The government has not set up a platform to respond or called for a substantive press conference to provide a legitimate and reasonable counter or explanation over Al Jazeera’s allegedly unfavourable or misleading reporting,” Wathshlah said.
The CIJ also urged the government to drop all investigations into Al Jazeera and for Saifuddin to support media independence and freedom of the press.
“We urge the communications and multimedia minister not (to) be complicit in infringements on the right to information and freedom of expression,” it said.
The 25-minute documentary aired on Al Jazeera’s 101 East programme on July 3 reported on an operation against illegal immigrants which took place as Malaysia implemented restrictions on public activities to address the spread of Covid-19.
Following the broadcast, Al Jazeera journalists were called by federal police in their investigations into the documentary.
Saifuddin said that if the international media had violated its accreditation conditions, then the government will cancel the accreditation.
The CIJ also reiterated its call for an internal investigation into the potential mismanagement of power or accountability in the treatment of undocumented migrants during the movement control order (MCO).