The Attorney-General’s Chambers had issued instructions as early as 2016 for satellite broadcaster Astro to be charged with airing an Al Jazeera documentary on the controversial murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2015.
However, it was the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) that had recommended to issue a compound to Measat Broadcast Network Systems Bhd (Astro) instead of charging them in court.
In a statement today, MCMC said an investigation paper was submitted to the AGC in December 2015, and on January 5, 2016, MCMC was ordered to charge Astro under Section 211 of the MCMC Act.
“On January 8, 2016, MCMC suggested to the AGC to reconsider its decision to charge Astro in court and proposed a compound,” it said in its statement.
MCMC said the AGC agreed with its recommendation and a new instruction was issued for MCMC to prepare the compound notice.
“The case was then referred again to the deputy public prosecutor on April 30, 2019 and June 4, 2020.
“The instruction to issue the compound was made by the AGC on June 23, following which the MCMC issued the compound to Astro on July 1.
“Measat Broadcast can decide to accept the compound or lodge an appeal,” MCMC said.
Measat Broadcast has 30 days to appeal.
It was reported yesterday that MCMC has fined Astro for airing the 2015 documentary, deemed to contain “indecent” content.
The documentary was aired on Astro’s Channel 153 on September 11, 2015.
MCMC’s clarification today comes in the wake of criticism against the government for taking such a delayed action over the matter.
The fine against Astro was also largely seen by many as part of the government’s crackdown against Al Jazeera, following the ongoing investigation into the international broadcaster’s Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown documentary.
National Film Development Corporation Malaysia meanwhile said on Monday that Al Jazeera did not have the required licence to film and air the second documentary, which showed the alleged mistreatment of migrants in Malaysia during the movement-control order.
Six Al Jazeera employees have been hauled up for questioning. – TMI