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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Charging KiniTV severely undermines press freedom, says Surendran

Padang Serai MP calls it a black day for journalism in Malaysia
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PETALING JAYA: It is a black day for journalism when journalists are charged in court for carrying out their duties, says Padang Serai MP N. Surendran.
He was referring to the case of KiniTV and its directors Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran, who are to be charged under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 in the Special Cyber Court in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow for publishing a video of a press conference by Khairuddin Abu Hassan calling for the Attorney-General’s resignation.
“KiniTV carried out its function as a journalist/broadcaster in reporting the contents of Khairuddin’s press conference.
“The right of KiniTV to report what was said at the press conference is protected by Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression, including freedom of the press.
“Any kind of criminal charges brought against KiniTV and its directors would be unconstitutional and hence void for illegality,” said Surendran.
He said the High Court had the jurisdiction to summarily strike down the charges for unconstitutionality without the need for a trial, should the AG’s chambers go ahead with the prosecution.
“The charges will also further damage our country’s reputation as a democratic nation, and jeopardise investor confidence.
“No country can be considered a proper or functioning democracy, if it fails to defend and uphold freedom of the press.”
He urged the AG to review the decision to institute these prosecutions and put on hold the charges pending the review.
Gan had said that KiniTV, the sister company of news website Malaysiakini, would challenge the charge as they were “merely doing our job as journalists”.
Using the Internet to upload offensive materials, the offence they are charged with, is punishable by a fine of up to RM50,000, a year’s jail, or both. -FMT

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