Media companies and influencers in Malaysia will now have to obtain film licences to produce video content such as documentaries and even saucy Instagram and TikTok clips.
Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said in parliament: “All filming requires a license from the National Film Development Corporation (Finas), even for personal social media.”
He added: “All filmmakers, whether they’re film agencies or social media channels, are required to seek approval from Finas at least seven days prior to the date of filming.”
Such rules were previously only applicable only to dramas, telemovies, and adverts.
Malaysian MP Fahmi Fadzil, 39, said Saifuddin’s remarks were worrying, saying in a press conference: “Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook Live, or TikTok, everyone may be affected according to the minister’s interpretation.
“I don’t know whether the minister concerned realises the full implications of his answer.
“Many will ask whether they will be compelled by the minister’s interpretation of the law whenever they post videos on social media.”
Fadzil represents the centre-left People’s Justice Party (PKR), a component party of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) opposition coalition.
The surprise announcement followed a probe into whether a Qatari news channel obtained a licensed to film a documentary called ‘Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown’ which caused outrage in the country.
The documentary looked at the lives of migrant workers under Malaysia’s coronavirus lockdown.
Earlier this week, the Qatari news channel Al Jazeera slammed the Malaysian government’s probe, saying that it contradicts itself as the documentary did not obtain or require a filming license based on the previous rules.
Al Jazeera English Managing Director Giles Trendle said: “Al Jazeera asserts that, according to the Malaysia’s National Film Development Corporation’s own definition, the 101 East weekly current affairs show does not fall into the category of film requiring a license.
“Unable to contest the integrity of our journalism, we believe the authorities are now attempting this new gambit of claiming we did not have a proper license.
Trendle added: “We do not believe this is a credible line of argument. In fact, we believe it is contradicted by the very own published guidelines of the relevant authority.”
Saifuddin said that the new rule will apply to personal content on social networks such as Instagram and TikTok, covering all types of video content of any duration.
He added: “Filmmakers are required to apply for the license. It doesn’t matter whether they’re film agencies for traditional platforms, or personal accounts that publish film content on social media.”
However, Saifuddin did not clarify when the new rule will come into effect.