Malaysia: Call to cease crackdown on media

Multiple journalists’ groups have handed a memorandum to the minister of Communications and Multimedia in Malaysia to mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the National Union of Journalists Malaysia (NUJM) support the call in stopping the current crackdown against media while calling for the promotion of media sustainability.

The memorandum is handed to Mr Syed Khairil who accepted on behalf of the ministry. Credit: CIJ

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), along with Gerakan Media Merdeka (GERAMM) and the NUJM released the joint memorandum to the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM) in Malaysia. It calls for a stop to attacks on the media and supporting independent journalism. The memorandum was submitted to Mr Syed Khairil who accepted it on behalf of the ministry.

Deeply concerned with the status of media freedom in the country, the groups were represented by CIJ director, Wathshlah Naidu; President of NUJM Farah Marshita Abdul Patah and Geramm representative Alyaa Alhadjri. The memorandum highlighted five critical issues, including economic viability of the media, health and safety of the media, restrictions of access for reporting, media crackdowns and the use of repressive laws the silence the media.

The memorandum demands six courses of action from the government, which included the establishment of a Media Resilience Fund to support and sustain the livelihood, practices and operations of media personnel during Covid-19 pandemic, dropping of allinvestigations and legal harassment of media and the cessation of all acts of intimidation and adverse actions against the media and journalists.

The push for the protection of journalists comes after Malaysia underwent a drastic drop in its national ranking of press freedom following the release of the World Press Freedom Index 2021 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Malaysia dropped 18 ranks, from 101 in 2020 to 119 in 2021 out of 180 countries.

The IFJ said: “The continued attack on journalism across Malaysia demonstrates the need for government action and responsibility to ensure the protection of journalists. The calls made by the joint memorandum provide a necessary scope for the Malaysian government to respond and listen to the needs of the media to allow for a strong and robust democracy in the country.”

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