Pakistan Press Foundation expresses concern on proposed stricter punishments for Malaysian journalists
Pakistan Press Foundation PPF in a letter to Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak expressed concern over the proposed stricter punishments for journalists of Malaysia.
PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali in his letter called for adhering to the freedom of expression. He said he was appalled at the most recent assault against right to freedom of expression and information and its critical role in upholding democracy in Malaysia.
He referred to Attorney General Mohamad Apanda Ali’s proposal to increase punishment under the heavy handed Official Secrets Act to include life imprisonment and 10 strokes of rotan to target journalists. This is indicator of a government who is intolerant of criticism, fearful of accountability; and a case of shooting the messenger to distract from real issue at hand, which is good governance and transparency in a working democracy.
The reported leaks in recent times seem to be an indication of failed processes within the government to address issues of accountability and transparency, where civil servants feel they need to seek media intervention. Protection of source remains one of strongest safeguards and principles not just for good journalism ethics, but as a pillar of public’s right to know and demand accountability from its government.
He urged Malaysian government to restrain compulsion of Attorney General to propose greater restrictions on democratic rights and freedom through heavy handed laws that seem to be pushed through with little debate, but instead, work on ways in which these can be defended.