The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) extends
its support to the proposal put forward by its affiliate, the National Union of
Journalists (NUJ), for reforms to electoral reporting in Malaysia.
On January 25, the NUJ submitted its proposal to Malaysia’s Parliamentary Select Committee
on Electoral Reforms, which has sought public submissions regarding proposed
measures to aid the conducting of free and fair elections. The Committee’s work
will feed into a report to be tabled for debate by legislators during
the March sitting of Malaysia’s
Changes proposed by the NUJ’s submission include:
- For the Election Commission of Malaysia to form a
media-monitoring committee, mandated to issue guidelines to print, broadcast
and on-line media during the election period.
- Campaigning by incumbent government and opposition
parties during the election period on state run news agencies to be allocated
based on the percentage of parliamentary seats won in the previous election
or on parliamentary seats being contested.
- Equal time allocated to both the caretaker government
and opposition for live campaigning over broadcast media.
- Equal access to purchasing of advertising space within
media publications to all political parties.
- Commitments to fair and balanced reporting by all
public and private media.
- For the media-monitoring committee to draft regulations
that enforce regulations related to conduct under the Election Act (1958), and
- Oversight by the Electoral Commission to ensure that
police exercise diligence and promptness in approving permits for political
parties and independent candidates to conduct public meetings.
Although the current term of Malaysia’s
national government is not due to end until 2013, there has been widespread
media speculation that an early general election will be called in the first
quarter of 2012.
“Access to reliable and impartial information is a prerequisite for fair
and open elections”, said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqui
“The IFJ urges Malaysia’s parliamentary select
committee on electoral reforms to give genuine consideration to the reforms
proposed by the NUJ, in order to ensure fair and balanced reporting during Malaysia next
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