the A-G’s Chambers has also engaged the Bar Council
and stakeholders on the proposed changes to the laws. "
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27 — The Bar Council said today it has not been consulted on Putrajaya’s plan to change a publishing law widely believed will restrict media freedom, contrary to the Attorney-General’s statement yesterday, adding to the controversy.
“No, we were not consulted on that. We were only consulted on preventive laws, laws that allow for detention without trial, like the ISA (Internal Security Act) and the Emergency Ordinance (EO),” the law society’s chief, Ragunath Kesavan (picture), told The Malaysian Insider today.
A public furore broke out after a Home Ministry official disclosed two days ago that the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984 will be amended to expand its scope to cover online “publications” and plug loopholes created by advances in technology.
National news agency Bernama reported Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam as saying the ministry was working with the Attorney-General’s Chambers to study the proposed amendments.
“We hope the amendments will be tabled in Parliament by March this year because we need to overcome weaknesses, especially those involving multimedia content,” Mahmood was quoted as saying.
Yesterday, A-G Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail confirmed his department has drawn up drafts to amend several laws.
He named the PPPA, the Sedition Act 1948 and ISA among them.
Abdul Gani told reporters at the Jalan Duta Court Complex the A-G’s Chambers has also engaged the Bar Council and stakeholders on the proposed changes to the laws.
He refused to comment when pressed further on who the stakeholders were, or the scope of the amendments, or even if the drafts were final.
Instead, Abdul Gani redirected the questions back to the Home Ministry.
“If he said that, it must be true. They are my clients,” he said, referring to the Home Ministry secretary-general’s statements.
“I’m not they policymaker. I don’t make the law,” he replied when asked to confirm if the laws were to be amended to cover online news.
However, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein appeared to backpedal on the issue in a news conference held later the same day.
The minister said the proposed amendments were still in the early stages and had not been finalised.