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MalaysiaNow banned from Selangor govt's election WhatsApp group

It is the latest in a series of restrictions on the media by the authorities.

2 minute read

MalaysiaNow has been barred from joining a WhatsApp group run by the Department of Information (JaPen) Selangor, in what is seen as the latest obstacle on media freedom in the country.

The group, Pusat Media Maya (PMM), served as the Selangor government's official information channel during last year's state elections, providing journalists with updates from the Election Commission and candidates' activities.

The group, which has more than 300 members, now serves as the official channel for disseminating information about the May 11 by-election in Kuala Kubu Baharu.

A request by two MalaysiaNow staff, a reporter and a photographer - both with official media credentials from the Department of Information - was rejected without explanation.

When asked, the group's administrator confirmed that MalaysiaNow was barred.

"Our media department director at the headquarters does not allow (to join the group)," he said.

"Sorry, just following instructions."

Pressed for an explanation, he replied, "I don't know, I'm not sure either. Do you hold a media card?"

It comes on the back of a series of restrictions imposed on journalists and news portals by JaPen, the body under the communications ministry that issues media accreditation cards.

In March, Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil accused some journalists of misusing their media cards.

Fahmi also threatened to revoke the media pass of any journalist or news outlet, saying JaPen had the right to do so.

MalaysiaNow has learnt that JaPen had revoked the media accreditation of another news portal, TV Pertiwi, earlier this year.

The portal's website has already been blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, apart from having its TikTok account removed.

Earlier, the official PAS organ Harakah had its media cards revoked shortly after Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim complained about a report criticising him.