New media a boon to public prosecutors

By Farah Ahmadnawi, BB 25 May 2010

The power of the media and the need to place regulations or limits on their freedom of expression was the main agenda at a seminar entitled “The Media and The Law”, which was held at the Empire Hotel and Country Club yesterday.

“Should the media be left to regulate itself or ruled by the government?”

This was the question raised by Datin Paduka Hajah Hayati POKSDSP Haji Mohd Salleh, Attorney General.

She went on to provide an example, “When the media get all the facts wrong, should we respond? When a blogger got his facts wrong and wrote a tirade of insults against the court and DPP, should we retaliate and bring the blogger to justice or would doing that means doomsday for freedom of expression?”

However, apart from the negative impact, she pointed out the benefits that the media provides today, which has served a great purpose to the public prosecutors who can utilise the new media to obtain information and also to disseminate information publicly.

“From the prosecution point of view, laws are becoming more accessible. Indeed most of the laws of Brunei can be found on the Attorney General’s chambers website. The court’s decisions in criminal matters are more readily available and accessible resulting in more regular reports by the media,” said the Attorney General.

Over 140 locals from various government ministries and departments and other related agencies, including the officers of the Attorney General’s Chambers of Brunei Darussalam participated in the seminar.

Nine participants from the Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia and Singapore also took part in the two-day event.

The guest of honour was Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Muta-Wakkilah Hayatul Bolkiah, who also participated in the session.

Organised by the Attorney General’s Chambers of Brunei Darussalam, the seminar was aimed at facilitating the participants for an open and free discussion regarding the current issues in respect of the relationship between public prosecutors and the media.

“This will hopefully lead to the sharing of experiences and an exchange of ideas as to how the law can operate to regulate the output of the media while balancing the important role of the press,” said Datin Paduka Hajah Hayati.

The first day of the seminar was a closed session and was aimed at discussing how the public prosecutors deal with the media such as the reporting of cases and other aspects within the scope of work of the public prosecutors.

Meanwhile, the second day will focus on some insight into how the Attorney General’s Chambers of all the three countries make use of the new media in their bid to publicise information to the public.

Selected panels and speakers from AGC, ministries and media will be presenting throughout the event.