Geramm lancar kempen sosial media bantah pindaan Akta SKMM

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Gerakan Media Marah (Geramm) prihatin dengan penutupan sebuah lagi laman berita, The Rakyat Post, pada 29 Februari lalu. (English version below)

Bukan sahaja kakitangan dilepaskan tanpa notis yang memadai dan pampasan, difahamkan sejumlah 30 kakitangan malah terpaksa memfailkan laporan di Jabatan Buruh untuk menuntut gaji bulan Januari dan Februari yang tertunggak.

Kumpulan itu turut merangkumi kakitangan editorial yang berpendapatan kurang RM5,000 sebulan. Mereka yang berpendapatan lebih daripada itu tidak lagi tertakluk di bawah kuasa Pejabat Buruh, justeru perlu melantik peguam sendiri.

Geramm melihat langkah ini sebagai tidak adil, apatah lagi ramai kakitangan tiada sumber pendapatan lain sepanjang tempoh mencari kerja baru.

Kami juga memandang serius hakikat bahawa The Rakyat Post hanyalah kes terbaru dalam siri penstrukturan semula laman berita, yang turut melibatkan beberapa lagi laman berita atas talian dalam tempoh dua tahun.

Geramm percaya bahawa salah satu aspek utama kebebasan media adalah kebebasan untuk sesiapa sahaja menubuh dan menjalankan organisasi media. Namun kami juga akur bahawa apabila menyentuh soal dana dan operasi, pemilik dan operatornya berhak untuk meneruskan dan/atau menghentikan operasi mengikut budi bicara mereka.

Namun, prosesnya tidak seharusnya mengorbankan kebajikan kakitangan dan apa-apa langkah ke arah itu sepatutnya turut disertakan notis yang sepatutnya serta pampasan.

Dan matlamat organisasi media sepatutnya bukan untuk membawa agenda sesetengah individu yang mempunyai kaitan politik dengan membelakangkan hak orang awam untuk mendapat maklumat.

Penubuhan dan penutupan laman berita secara sewenang-wenang demi agenda berkaitan politik adalah ancaman serius terhadap amalan kewartawanan yang sepatutnya, hak orang awam untuk mendapat maklumat serta kebajikan wartawan dan kakitangan lain yang hanya menjalankan tugas.

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Bagi meningkatkan kesedaran berhubung ancaman terhadap media tempatan, Geramm akan menjalankan semula kempen media sosial kami. Kali ini, ia untuk memberi tekanan terhadap cadangan pindaan Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia.

Pindaan itu, yang antara lain akan memperkenalkan hukuman yang lebih keras bagi kesalahan, dijangka akan dibentangkan pada sesi perbahasan Parlimen yang bermula kelmarin.

Geramm sekali lagi menegaskan pendirian kami bahawa pindaan ini hanyalah satu lagi usaha kerajaan untuk menyekat hak kebebasan bersuara dan kebebasan maklumat.

Butiran lanjut tentang kempen kami akan diberitahu pada minggu ini.

Geramm ialah perikatan longgar wartawan, wakil media dan aktivis tempatan yang memperjuang kebebasan media dan pengamalnya.

English version:

Geramm launches social media campaign against MCMC Act amendments

Gerakan Media Marah (Geramm) notes with concern the recent closing of another online portal, The Rakyat Post, with the last day of its operations being on 29 February.

Not only were they let go without adequate notice and compensation, it is understood that the group of around 30 affected staff had to file a complaint with the Labour Department in order to claim their unpaid wages for January and February.

The group comprises editorial staff who earn below RM5,000 a month. Those who earn above the sum are no longer under the jurisdiction of the Labour Office and as such would be required to appoint their own lawyers.

Geramm views the move as an unfair dismissal of affected staff, many of whom have no other source of income for the duration that they are looking for new employment.

We also note with serious concern that The Rakyat Post is the most recent case in a series of similar cases involving other online news portals over the last two years.

READ MORE:  End actions that threaten media freedom immediately

Geramm believes that an important aspect of a free press includes the freedom for anyone to operate a news organisation, though we also acknowledge that when it comes to funding and operations, owners and operators do have the right to continue and/or terminate such operations at their discretion.

The process, however, should not be at the expense of staff welfare, and any developments should include proper notice as well as compensation.

And the concern of news organisations should not be to spread the agenda of certain individuals with political ties at the expense of the right of the public to be informed.

The willy-nilly setting up and closing down of news portals just for a politically linked agenda is a serious threat to proper journalistic practice, the right of the public to be properly informed as well as the welfare of journalists and staff who are only doing their jobs.

To raise awareness on threats against the local media, Geramm will be reactivating our social media campaign, this time to put pressure against proposed amendments to the Communications and Multimedia Act.

The amendments, which among others would introduce harsher punishments for convicted offences, is expected to be tabled for debate in this current Parliament session starting yesterday.

Geramm reiterates our stand that this is yet another attempt by the government to crack down on basic rights to freedom of expression and freedom of information.

More details on the campaign will be released later this week.

Geramm is a loose coalition of journalists, media representatives and activists who are fighting for freedom of the press and its practitioners.

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