PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today the government would review the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 to enable writing, broadcasting and publishing to be not overly confined to guidelines.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Home Minister, said this was necessary because the media of today was almost totally monopolised by the alternative media.
“The Home Ministry strives to give greater freedom to all forms of writing, publishing and broadcasting so that they are not overly confined to guidelines,” he said at a luncheon talk with editors-in-chief and holders of publishing permits.
He said the guidelines of the Act might have been appropriate in the past but today these had to be modified without compromising the ethics of journalism. The Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 was last amended in 2012.
Ahmad Zahid also said that the ministry issued a firm warning letter, two warning letters, 14 letters of reprimand, 44 letters of advice and four show-cause letters to the media and printers last year.
Ahmad Zahid said the government realised that most of the traditional media companies, both electronic and print, faced challenges today in terms of reducing income because the majority of the people now preferred the non-traditional media.
He said most of the traditional media were also seen as ‘biased’ towards the government in their delivery of news.
Ahmad Zahid said that in facing these challenges, the Home Ministry should be seen as a partner and not an authority that pressures the industry.
“We need each other. If the pen was once considered mightier than the sword, now the pen has transformed into information at the finger tips. This is a challenge for the media and the Home Ministry,” he said.
At the event, Ahmad Zahid announced the #mediacouncil hashtag to solicit proposals and suggestions from media practitioners for the review of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 to make it more relevant to the present situation.
“Also through the #mediacouncil, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed media council as a self-regulatory body,” he said.
During the question-and-answer session, Star Media Group managing director/chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai suggested that Facebook and Google be subjected to tax like in Vietnam.
Ahmad Zahid said he would raise the matter at a meeting of the Cabinet. – Bernama