CENBET co-president Gan Ping Sieu: High Time FINAS Act is Amended to Keep Up with The Times
Friday, July 24, 2020

The public outcry against the National Film Development Corporation (FINAS) Act 1981 is very understandable, given the far-reaching powers and loose definition of the law.

The catch-all law is definitely obsolete and requires a clearer definition in keeping up with time. Today, almost everyone is a content producer. Armed with just a smartphone, we are able to create a variety of content ranging from commercials, public service announcements, tutorials and more.

Not only can we produce, but we are also publishers via a wide range of digital platforms such as YouTube, FaceBook, Instagram and many more.

Going by the definition of the FINAS Act, all of us who have, at one point or another, produced or published online video advertisements, presentations, public education lectures by renowned speakers and academicians for social good and intellectual debates have flouted the law.

The FINAS Act, first passed in 1981, belongs to the yesteryears. Parts of Section 22, which empowers FINAS in licensing, was last amended in 1984. It is high time it is reviewed and revised to reflect new reality.

By enforcing this catch-all law, it creates the perception that media freedom is being impinged and raises concern of a precedent being set. We are sure this is not the case, as Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, the Communications and Multimedia Minister, had as recently as May this year, reiterated the Government’s commitment to press freedom.

We welcome the Minister’s clarification on this matter via a press statement, in which he said his Ministry would be reviewing all laws under its purview. In upholding good governance, we hope that the Minister will engage all stakeholders and hold public consultations as part of the review process.

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