Fahmi: Media card not a licence to practise journalism

PETALING JAYA: The media card issued by the Information Department is not a licence to practise journalism, says Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil.

He said the card is merely to facilitate journalists attending official events of the government.

“This is not a profession like lawyers or doctors that requires a licence to practise in those fields.

“Not every assignment requires a media card, but certain events such as National Day, the Installation of the King, or parliamentary proceedings would.

“As such, these are the considerations that merit the issuance of the media card,” he told reporters yesterday after the launch of CelcomDigi Health Solutions.

Fahmi was responding to reports on Tuesday whereby several online journalists were issued media cards with shorter validity period of six months following a review on the standard operating procedure (SOP).

The adjustment by the department to the SOP drew complaints from the National Union of Journalists Malaysia.

Previously, the standard validity period for all media cards was two years.

In response to this, Fahmi said the shorter validity period for media cards issued to journalists from certain online outlets has yet to be enforced.

He also said those with a validity period of six months or less may apply to the Information Department for a review.

“When I launched the updated Journalism Code of Ethics, I heard views from several parties – one of them being the Foreign Correspondents Club Malaysia, about the validity period (of the cards).

“As a result, I had informed the department to review a few things. We will issue a follow-up announcement,” he said.

He said part of the reason for the review was his own encounter with a journalist whose organisation was no longer in operation.However, Fahmi stressed that the government did not intend to restrict freedom of speech, but had to make some revisions especially in the challenging online media ecosystem.

Separately, on the calls by certain groups to abolish the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA) to make way for an independent Malaysian Media Council, Fahmi said the matter was not mutually exclusive.

“Should the Act be abolished to make way for the formation of the council? It is not mutually exclusive, from my view, to assume one cannot exist without the other,” he said.

On March 1, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail clarified that there will be no amendments to the Act, adding he was not opposed to the formation of the media council.

The CelcomDigi Health Solutions is a collaboration with the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

It is a continuation of the digitalisation grant for small and medium enterprises announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when tabling Budget 2024 on Oct 23.