Not the government’s job to preach to the press, lawyer tells Pakatan

Raynore Mering
Lawyer N. Surendran has told the Pakatan Harapan government not to preach to the media but to repeal the Printing Press and Publication Act 1984. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 —  Prominent lawyer N. Surendran has told the Pakatan Harapan government not to preach to the media but to repeal the Printing Press and Publication Act 1984.

Taking exception to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s speech at a high tea with the press today, Surendran said the government should protect press freedom.

“Don’t patronise or preach to the media. That’s not the job of government,” the Lawyers for Liberty adviser said on Twitter.

“Instead, protect press freedom by repealing the oppressive Printing Press & Publication Act 1984. The advice ‘power comes with responsibility’ is advice the government should give to itself, not to the media!”

Surendran attached a link to a news report from The Sun Daily in which Dr Wan Azizah had told the press to practise greater responsibility when reporting.

“The pen is mightier than the sword. Whatever you write, whether good or bad, can be of important impact.

“If we understand better our respective roles and expectations, then we can do so much better. We (government) hope for a greater understanding. Yes, we have differences in our roles, but I just want your understanding.

“You can criticise, but you must also look at the facts. You can question, but remember that with power comes responsibility,” she said in the report.

The Printing Press and Publication Act 1984 is among six draconian laws that the Pakatan Garapan government had pledged to repeal.

The other laws are the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) 2012,  Peaceful Assembly Act (APA) 2012, Prevention of Crime Act (Pota) 1959, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015, and the Sedition Act 1948.

The Home Ministry in a statement earlier today had said it had not backtracked on its pledge and that it had completed two Bills for the purpose of amending Sosma and APA in the coming Parliament sitting.

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