The Malaysian parliament on Wednesdayproposed a bill to ease control over media, a day after passing abill banning indefinite detention without trial, amid ongoing reformefforts.
The Printing Presses and Publications Bill 2012 would moderate theHome minister’s power to grant or refuse publishing permits tonewspapers, magazines and other publications.
“This is an important step forward for media freedom in Malaysia,”Prime minister Najib Razak said. “I pledged to overhaul thedecades-old media licensing regulations and today I have delivered onthat promise.” Under the new bill, publications would still need a permit fromthe home minister, who can decline if it represents a risk of socialunrest or to national security. But media outlets would no longerhave to apply for a new one every year.
The bill also allows for a court to revise the minister’slicensing decisions.
On Tuesday, the parliament passed a bill that effectively repealedthe country’s draconian Internal Security Act, which allowed for theindefinite detention of anyone considered a threat to nationalsecurity.
The repealing bill still has to pass the Senate, which isdominated by ruling party members, and be signed into effect by theking, but Tuesday’s decision was seen as a significant step inNajib’s campaign to reform the legislation on civil liberties.