Reaction to MalaysiaNow reports: MCMC urges responsible news reporting, avoid manipulative content

THE Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has emphasised the importance of accurately representing the context of speeches delivered (or statements made) at the Parliament and to refrain from using such content to spread hatred or incite provocation.

This is in response to news reports by MalaysiaNow pertaining to the statement made by Putrajaya MP Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin who during their Sept 19 scuffle in the Dewan Rakyat accused Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as “a sodomiser” by referring to the latter’s past convictions in two sodomy cases.

In a short message marked “confidential” to MalaysiaNow the following day, MCMC has described the articles as “do not reflect the true context of the speech in question”, adding that the headlines were also “disrespectful and insulting”. However, MCMC did not provide its own version of the events.

The incident then attracted feedback from veteran journalist and blogger Datuk A. Kadir Jasin’s via a Facebook post after MCMC demanded the pro-Perikatan Nasional (PN) news portal to amend or remove news reports on the chaos in the Dewan Rakyat by giving it “two hours to do so or face further enforcement actions”.

Among others, Kadir has claimed to have sent an enquiry via the WhatsApp channel to MCMC’s corporate communications team claiming that Radzi had only presented “facts of the court which akin to the facts of parliamentary proceedings, are qualified privileges and therefore can be reported without prejudice”.

At the same time, MalaysiaNow editor Abdar Rahman Koya has stood firm by saying that the portal would not cave to the latest pressure (by MCMC) and that it had merely carried out its journalistic duty to report on parliamentary proceedings for the benefit and consumption of the public.

Below is the full media statement by MCMC which is a watchdog body under the Communications and Digital Ministry headed by Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil:

The MCMC has observed that some reporting has been weaponised to manipulate the content and fuel disrespectful and divisive narrative.

In order to prevent the commission or attempted commission of an offense under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA 1998), the MCMC calls for full cooperation from news outlets and individuals. MCMC views seriously the impact of manipulative reporting on society.

The MCMC advises media and news outlets to refer to the Content Code which provides clear guidelines for media practitioners on the standards of content in line with the CMA 1998.

By adhering to the Content Code, media practitioners can ensure responsible reporting and avoid crossing the legal boundaries of free speech.

The guidelines outlined in the Content Code promote a responsible approach to content provision and self-regulation procedures. This approach aims to foster creativity, innovation and healthy growth in the industry.

By following these guidelines, media outlets can contribute to a more informed and balanced public discourse, free from misleading information and manipulation.

MCMC’s call for responsible reporting highlights the importance of accurate and contextual news coverage. It is essential that media practitioners exercise ethical judgment and refrain from weaponising news content to spread disinformation. – Sept 23, 2023

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