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Government has no intention of restricting individuals’ freedoms on social media, says Malaysia's multimedia minister

Government has no intention of restricting individuals’ freedoms on social media, says Malaysia's multimedia minister

Malaysia's Minister for Communication and Multimedia Saifuddin Abdullah. (Photo: Bernama)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government has no intention of restricting individuals’ freedoms on social media, said Minister for Communication and Multimedia Saifuddin Abdullah, following backlash against his earlier response in parliament that all film producers must apply for a licence prior to production.

In a media statement released on Thursday evening (Jul 23), the minister said that reports on his remarks had given an "inaccurate impression" and imparted a different meaning from his intended answer.

READ: All filming in Malaysia, even for social media requires a licence - Multimedia minister

“When answering, I only explained regarding current laws, which is the National Film Development Corporation (FINAS) Act, which was passed by parliament in 1981,” said Mr Saifuddin.

“It needs to be stressed that the Perikatan Nasional government has never, and has no intent, to use this Act to restrict individuals’ private freedoms on social media, which was a phenomenon which did not exist when the Act was enacted,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Mr Saifuddin had said that all film production, whether for mainstream media broadcast or personal social media, required a licence from the government agency regulating the film industry.

READ: COVID-19 - Face masks compulsory in Malaysia's crowded public spaces, transportation from Aug 1

He was replying in parliament to Kluang MP Wong Shu Qi, who had asked whether it was compulsory for all film producers to apply for a film production licence and a film shooting certificate - regardless of whether they were media agencies or individuals - who were publishing their films on social media or traditional channels. 

Mr Saifuddin's response sparked debate and drew criticism from opposition MPs, who said this would unfairly burden social media users.

According to the licence application guidelines on FINAS' website, applicants have to be registered as owners of a private limited company with a paid-up capital of at least RM50,000 (US$11,778).

In his statement later on Thursday, Mr Saifuddin said that the Act had been used by the previous Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional governments, and that back when it was created, platforms such as TikTok and YouTube did not exist.

The ministry has taken note that the Act needs to be improved, said Mr Saifuddin, and is open to receiving any suggestions in improving not just the FINAS Act, but other legislation under its purview.

Source: CNA/vt(nc)

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