Court ruling on media platform a threat to freedom of expression in Malaysia

22 February 2021

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) is concerned about a Federal Court ruling that found a news media platform, Malaysiakini, guilty of contempt of court over comments made by readers on the site. Although SUHAKAM respects the court’s decision, it is concerned that the ruling could could set a precedent that may have significant implications on the people’s right to freedom of expression and freedom of information in the country.

In today’s digital age where open discussion and comments are made public, platform owners should not be liable for comments made by the public on their platforms. SUHAKAM stresses that the Malaysia’s legal framework should keep pace with the continuously evolving character of digital media, which increasingly serves as a platform for discourse and expression on issues of public interest.

It also notes that the media is an essential instrument that contributes towards greater awareness and protection of human rights through. There should be an enabling environment for the media to work effectively to serve the public interest. Any demands or measures undertaken to remove digital content should be based on validly enacted law and  independent oversight.

SUHAKAM stresses that equal access to information, assurances on press freedom and responsible journalism will demonstrate Malaysia’s commitment to promote and protect the people’s right to freedom of opinion and expression which includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Source: Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM)

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