Repeal draconian laws to ensure media freedom, says activist

C4 chief Cynthia Gabriel said any bias in reporting by media which is owned by tycoons or political parties will lead to distrust against the media in general. | 10-May-2021 – PETALING JAYA: There is an urgent need to repeal draconian media-related laws and push for media reform and greater press freedoms, rights advocate Cynthia Gabriel said today.

Gabriel, who is executive director of the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), claims laws such as the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and Sedition Act 1948, among others, have been used as a “shield” to protect those in power.

Speaking today in a webinar titled “Malaysia’s Trust in Media”, she said that any political bias in news coverage could also be due to ownership by political parties or influential people.

“News coverage tends to be biased if a news portal is owned by a certain political party or tycoon with a political agenda. This will destroy democracy in the country.

“Such bias in news reporting could also lead to growing distrust of the media,” she added.

Earlier in the webinar, Merdeka Center programme director Ibrahim Suffian said a survey commissioned by the NUJ with the International Federation of Journalists (under the European Commission Project), revealed that many Malaysians agreed with the provisions in the Sedition Act and anti-fake news law, despite the concern that such laws could be abused by the authorities.

He said the survey showed that many Malaysians acknowledged the threat of fake news and supported laws that served to curb disinformation in the country.