Abolish the PPPA to achieve press freedom, Yeo Bee Yin tells government

In a statement today, Yeo Bee Yin, DAP Social Media Strategist and ADUN for Damansara Utama (DU) called for the abolishing of the Printing Presses and Public Act (PPPA) by the government as a crucial step to achieving press freedom.

“If Putrajaya is really sincere about improving press freedom, I call upon the government to stop introducing amendments that brings only cosmetic value, but to repeal PPPA totally and allow self-regulation of publishers and journalists by an independent media council,” said the DU ADUN.

She criticised Multimedia Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek’s  hypothesis that the act of opposition parties blocking certain media from covering their events had played a part in Malaysia’s sharp fall of 23 rungs in the 2013 World Press Freedom Index (PFI) from 122 to 145 out of 179 countries.

“I hope that he did read how Reporters Without Border computed the Press Freedom Index before suggesting such possibility,” she said, adding that the index measured 6 criteria:  pluralism (degree of representation of views), media independence, environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency and infrastructure.

Citing some incidents of obstruction of press freedom that was exercised by the government, Yeo Bee Yin reminded the Multimedia Minister of the suspension of The Heat in December 2013 and attempts to block the BBC #Kangkung site earlier this year that these were clear examples  of the BN led government, contributing to the drop in PFI rankings.

On January 15 2014, online users had complained of difficulty to access the BBC # Kangkung site’s satirical report on the British news service about Malaysians poking fun at Prime Minister Najib Razak’s infamous water spinach remarks.

The DU ADUN warned Ahmad Shabery Cheek that the aforementioned censorship was a violation of Multimedia Super Corridor’s Bill of Guarantees of no Internet censorship. Failure to abide by the bill would restrict press freedom in Malaysia, she said.

“Ahmad Shabery also had the cheek to cite the amendment of Printing Presses and Public Act (PPPA) 1984 as an example of government efforts in improving press freedom,” she added, reminding the Multimedia Minister that Putrajaya’s suspension of  of The Heat in December 2013 came after the PPPA amendment.

“Worse still, the amendment to Section 13B that gave the publisher the opportunity to be heard was completely ignored in the process. The suspension was lifted only after public uproar.”

“So how does the 2012 amendment of PPPA help with press freedom in Malaysia?,” she asks, asserting that the PPPA must be repealed for press freedom in the nation to be realized.

“Free press is a fundamental ingredient of a democratic nation,” says Yeo Bee Yin. -The Rocket

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