Photo taken from The Star Online

By Syauqi Jamil

KUALA LUMPUR: The August House today hosted a roundtable discussion between Parliamentarians with local and international experts in an attempt to address weakness in national legislations.

Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said the roundtable discussion provides opportunities for lawmakers to have in-depth discussion with the experts on freedom of expression, access to information and press freedom.

The event co-organised with The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) and Human Rights Commission Of Malaysia (Suhakam) aims to bridge the gaps in national legislation with international standars.

“The recently elected Government of Malaysia has made a pledge to review, repeal and abolish statutes deemed oppressive and an abuse of power.

“These laws include those that curtail freedom of expression. Thus I believe there is no better time than now to have this roundtable with Parliamentarians,” he said in his opening speech.

Ariff said this is the first time the Malaysian Parliament are collaborating with specialised agency such as Unesco and Suhakam.

He said freedom of expression can’t be exercised effectively and may not bring benefits to the nation if society doesn’t have adequate access to information.

“Access to information is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression and the corollary right to media freedom.

“Indeed, a true democracy cannot exist without the freedom of expression, access to information and press freedom,” he said.

Ariff expressed confidence that the sharing of experiences the roundtable will be invaluable in moving towards Freedom of Information for Malaysia as a whole.

Among those spotted at the roundtable discussion was Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development and Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, Rompin MP Hasan Arifin, Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto to name a few.

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