Saturday, March 25, 2000

Freedom of Expression, Media, Press Resolution (25/3/2000)

The 54th AGM of the Malaysian Bar held at the Renaissance Hotel, Kuala Lumpur - Saturday, 25 March 2000

Motion 3:


1. This is the 43rd year of our country’s independence from British colonial rule on 31 August 1957 and it is time that the government of the day broadens “democratic space” and begins treating Malaysians as adult, mature and thinking individuals who must be given access to information and differing opinions irrespective of whether they are from political parties, societies, non-governmental organisations or individuals. Malaysians have the capacity to evaluate, analyse and come to sensible conclusions.

2. Our Federal Constitution in Part II entitled “Fundamental Liberties” in Article 10(1)(a) provides for the “right to freedom of speech and expression”.

3. There is a need for a more liberal and tolerant policy in the issuances of permits and/or licences for publications and radio/television stations, which are tools and means of expression and opinion forming.

4. The permit of the publication “Harakah”, which apparently sold about 350,000 copies per issue, has recently been imposed with new conditions with regard to the frequency of publication, from twice weekly to twice monthly. Some years ago the permits of the “Harakah” and the “Rocket” were imposed with the condition that these publications could only be sold to members of the party publishing them which is contrary to the principle that all publications should be freely accessible to all Malaysians.

5. The legislature through the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, in particular Section 13A(1) have excluded judicial review of the executive’s decision in granting, revoking or suspending a licence or permit.

6. In excluding “judicial review”, the legislature and/or the executive seem to cast aspersions on the judiciary with regard to their ability to make wise and just decisions in accordance with the law; and have also crippled the judiciary in their task of preventing arbitrariness in executive decision making.

Now it is hereby resolved:

A. That the Malaysian Bar calls upon the Government of Malaysia to remove all restrictions in law and/or otherwise that limit the full exercise of the right to freedom of speech and expression in Malaysia.

B. That the Malaysian Bar calls for the repeal and/or amendment of the Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984 to ensure that there will be no restrictions and imposition of conditions on permits/licences of publications especially with regard to the frequency of publications and the access of the said publications to all Malaysians.

C. That the Malaysian Bar calls for repeal and/or amendment of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and all other Acts with similar provision that exclude judicial review of executive decisions in whatever manner.

D. That the Malaysian Bar calls on the government of Malaysia to immediately remove all conditions and restrictions presently placed on publications, especially with regard to frequency of publication and access to all Malaysians.

Proposer: Mr Charles Hector
Seconders: En. Amin Hafiz
Ms Mary Manickam


The Motion was unanimously carried.

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