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The Role of the Free Press in Strengthening Good Governance, Democracy and Human Development.


Objective To explore the role of the free press in strengthening good governance,
democracy and human development.
Participants Representatives of the various media organizations, Government Agencies;
CSOs; academics.
Venue Pullman Hotel, Kuching (Sarawak)
Dates 19 October 2018

1. Introduction

The free flow of opinions, ideas, information and expression is one of the essential foundations
of any democratic society.1 Enshrined in international law since 19482 but with roots which reach
back to the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen in 1789, the right to freedom
of expression and opinion is now enshrined in a number of international and regional
conventions, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 19), the
European Convention on Human Rights (Article 10), the European Union Charter of
Fundamental Rights (Article 11), the American Convention on Human Rights (Article 13), the
African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Article 9) and the ASEAN Human Rights
Declaration (Article 23). It has come to encapsulate a right not only to impart, but also to seek
and receive, information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers; the right to access
information is increasingly accepted under international law as an integral part of the right to
freedom of expression.3
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Handyside v the UK, App. no. 5493/72, para. 49, 7 December 1976.

In Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights 1948; and Article 19 of the ICCPR 1966.

See UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 34, adopted on July 2011. See also ARTICLE 19’s call for
the UN to adopt an international convention on the right of access to environmental information.

Prepared by:

Alfonso Min and Linya Subah

Freedom of expression is often called the right that underpins all other rights. The clearest
example can be found in the role of media in promoting transparency and good governance. All
aspects of good governance are facilitated by a strong and independent mediascape within a
society. Only when journalists are free to monitor, investigate and criticize the public
administration’s policies and actions can good governance take hold. Independent media are like
a beacon that shone a light into the darkness and should be welcomed.

Freedom of expression, particularly when working together with right to access to information,
also help move the 2030 Agenda forward by contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 16:
“Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice
for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. In this way,
freedom of expression, is vital to achieving: “Public access to information and fundamental
freedoms” which is one of the targets of SDG 16.

2. Objectives

The overall objective of the forum is to explore the role of the free press in strengthening good
governance, democracy and human development.

The forum is intended to inspire commitment for reasonable perspectives on press freedom in

3. Methodology

This event is not a technical forum but an integrative process where most press freedom issues,
including its role in strengthening good governance, democracy and human development, will be
discussed. During the 90 minutes event, input will be gathered from a wide range of panels as
well as participants through facilitated discussions.

4. Participants

The workshop will bring together approximately 40 representatives from the various media
organizations, Government Agencies; CSOs; academics.
5. Format

The workshop will take place for a period 90 minutes. A moderator will facilitate the forum. It
will be interactive, with short, informal presentations, structured in panel discussions that would
trigger discussions and debate.

Prepared by:

Alfonso Min and Linya Subah

6. Output, Outcomes

Sarawak Office will present a report to the Commission, containing a summary of the
discussions of the forum and its key recommendations (if any).

Forum: The Role of the Free Press in Strengthening Good Governance, Democracy and
Human Development.
Date: 19 October 2018
Time: 09:15-10:45

Prepared by:

Alfonso Min and Linya Subah

Venue: Pullman Hotel, Kuching (Sarawak)

Time Item
08:30-09:00 Registration
09:00-09:30 Welcome Remarks
Tan Sri Razali Ismail
Human Rights Commission of Malaysia

09:30—11:00 The Role of the Free Press in Strengthening Good Governance, Democracy and
(90 mins) Human Development.

Description: The Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the federation. In

theory, the optimal protection of human rights is to insert human rights guarantees in
the Constitution. Respect and adherence to human rights principles for all without
distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion form the fundamental bedrock of
international standards of human rights. From the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights (1948) to various regional instruments that have been established since then,
what exactly are international standards? Are the human rights guarantees based on
universal standards in the Constitution adequate? What is the impact of Syariah Law
on the human rights situation? Are amendments to the Federal Constitution the way

Overview and moderation by Dr. Arnold Puyok, From Faculty of Social Science,
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.

Dato’ Mah Weng Kwai, Commissioner, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia
Abdul Aziz Harun, Bureau Chief (Sarawak), Malaysian National News Agency
One rep from CSO (TBC)

Open to the floor with Q&A, moderated by Dr. Arnold Puyok

11:00-11:30 MOU Signing Ceremony between SUHAKAM and UNIMAS
12:00- 13:00 Lunch

Prepared by:

Alfonso Min and Linya Subah

Speakers for Forum on The Role of the Free Press in Strengthening Good Governance,
Democracy and Human Development.

Mr. David Kaye (United States)

David Kaye is the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to
freedom of opinion and expression since August 2014. Mr Kaye is clinical professor of law at the
University of California, Irvine, School of Law. He teaches international human rights law and
international humanitarian law and directs a clinic in international justice. His research and
writing focus on accountability for serious human rights abuses and the law governing use of
force. He has collaborated with local and national governments, major international NGOs as
well as those at the grassroots, international organizations, and academic institutions around the
Email: dkaye@law.uci.edu

Ms. Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena (Sri Lanka)

Ms. Pinto-Jayawardena is a constitutional lawyer who was actively involved in the 2003/2015
information law drafting committee leading to the enactment of the country's RTI law. She serves
on the Right To Information (RTI) Commission of Sri Lanka. Litigating in civil liberties, she has
challenged the Sri Lankan State before the United Nations Human Rights Committee for
infringement of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). She
contributes a long-standing legal column for the Sunday Times, Colombo and has been in the
forefront of media law reform including on contempt of court.
Email: kishalipintojayawardena@gmail.com

Mr. Toby Mendel (Canada)

Prior to founding the Centre for Law and Democracy in January 2010, Toby Mendel was for over
12 years Senior Director for Law at ARTICLE 19, a human rights NGO focusing on freedom of
expression and the right to information. He has provided expertise on these rights to a wide range
of actors including the World Bank, various UN and other intergovernmental bodies, and
numerous governments and NGOs in countries all over the world. In these various roles, he has
often played a leading role in drafting legislation in the areas of the right to information and
media regulation. Before joining ARTICLE 19, he worked as a senior human rights consultant
with Oxfam Canada and as a human rights policy analyst at the Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA). He has published extensively on a range of freedom of
expression, right to information, communication rights and refugee issues, including comparative
legal and analytical studies on public service broadcasting, the right to information and broadcast
policy. Toby has an Honours B.A. in mathematics from McGill University and an L.L.B. from
Dalhousie University.
Email: tobymendel@gmail.com; toby@law-democracy.org;

Mr. Bambang Harymurti (Indonesia)

Prepared by:

Alfonso Min and Linya Subah

Mr. Bambang Harymurti served as the President Director of PT Tempo Inti Media Tbk since
2007 until July 29, 2017 and has been its Commissioner since July 2017. He has been a
journalist covering regional and international news since the early 1980s, working for several
journals, including TIME magazine, Media Indonesia Daily, and Tempo Weekly News magazine.
Mr. Harymurti completed Master’s degree from J.F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard
University, USA in 1991. He is also a former member of the Indonesian Press Council.
Email: bambang@tempo.co.id

Ms. Jennifer Jokstad (Bangkok-based)

Ms. Jokstad is the Human Rights Officer in the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights Regional Office for South-East Asia, and she is the focal point for Malaysia, Singapore
and Vietnam for UN Special Procedures and issues related to human rights defenders in South-
East Asia.
Email: jokstad@un.org

Mr. Matthew Bugher (United Kingdom)

Mr. Bugher is the Head of Asia and Pacific of Article19.org, an international NGO dedicated to
promoting the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Prepared by:

Alfonso Min and Linya Subah

Estimated Budget
Forum on The Role of the Free Press in Strengthening Good Governance, Democracy
and Human Development.
Time: 9am – 11.00am
Date: 19 October 2018
Venue: Pullman Hotel, Kuching (Sarawak)


(RM) Contribution Contribution
1. Accommodation
10 participants x 1 superior room rated 3,500.00 3,500.00
RM350.00 x 1 night.
2. Transportation (Hotel-Parliament-
i. Speakers 1,350.00
3 cars x RM450.00 per day x 1 day

ii. Participants 10,000.00

Flight: 10 pax x RM1000.00 6,000.00 17,350.00
Land transportation: 20 pax x
3. Catering for Morning Break &
Lunch (caterer for Parliament)
130 pax x RM60.00 7,800.00 7,800.00

4. Project Management 10%

Project reporting and administrative 2,865.00
Contingency 5% 1,432.50
Total (RM) 30,082.50 2,865
GRAND TOTAL (RM) 32,947.50

Prepared by:

Alfonso Min and Linya Subah