"Pls leave out blogs, Net". At the meeting called by the Home Ministry to discuss the latest proposal to set up a Malaysian Media Council or MMM (short for the proposed name in Malay, which is Majlis Media Malaysia), I took the following positions:
1. To oppose the formation of the Media Council
I told the meeting that I was of the view that blogs and on-line portals SHOULD NOT be included in the proposal to set up the Media Council. I said it was very ambitious on the parts of the sponsors of the idea to think that a single council would be able to deal with old and new media. (Bob Teoh of Sin Chew had made this same point before I did but he did not oppose the setting up of a media council).
2. To back the setting up of a Press Council
Since efforts to set up a Press Council had been initiated all the way back in 1973, I suggested that the meeting yesterday focused on the formation of a Press Council instead. I said as Adviser to the National Press Club, I'd be keen to take part in any effort to push for such a Council which, I believe, is greatly relevant.
3. To ensure that Press Council is Independent
I took the view that the Press Council must be independent and supported Zainon Ahmad's (theSun) insistence that the editors should have been the ones to initiate the effort, not the Home Ministry. To ensure the independence of the Press Council, the party that initiates the idea/effort must also be seen as independent. In this case, the initiative came from the Malaysian Press Institute which, I remember saying, had always been regarded as independent until it started agreeing to receive a direct grant from the Government when Zainudin Maidin was the Information Minister.
4. Don't use Press Council as a bargaining chip
After nearly four decades, the idea of a Press Council has remained an idea. Part of the problem is journalists' demand that the Government repeal all legislation before the Council is set up and starts operations.
I said the proposed Council should not be used for horse trading. We cam set up a Press Council and, at the same time, put pressure on the Government to repeal said Press laws.
Norela Daud, president of the National Union of Journalists, said instead of a Press Council, the industry should consider forming a Press Complaints Bureau. The Star editor-in-chief Wong Chun Wai disagreed. He said there would be a long queue of people who'd have something to complain about the papers and some of them may not even be genuine complaints.
Some 40 editors and media activists attended the 2-hour meeting. Nut Graph has the story, Editors want media laws reviewed first.