KUALA LUMPUR: Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo spoke of the importance of having media that is free to report the truth, “even if it may be in the form of criticism of the government”.
He said the media also helps to create and maintain connections between various groups in society.
“It socialises and educates us, and ‘guides’ us towards accepting certain ideas or perspectives and, of course, it entertains us by tailoring over-the-top (OTT) content to our requirement and preferences,” he said in his opening speech at the Unesco Open Talks@KL 2019 in conjunction with the International Day on Universal Access to Information.
Gobind described the media as an influential force in democracies, saying it is referred to as the ‘fourth estate’ for good reason.
“It is important that the independence of the media is not hindered. However, there is increasingly a critical need for the media to act responsibly. The media should not allow itself to be compromised or intimidated in any way,” he said.
Gobind added that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, when it came to power last year, pledged to review, repeal and abolish laws and provisions deemed oppressive and that were subject to abuse of power.
“These laws include those that curtail freedom of expression and human rights,” he said.
Gobind said the imminent implementation of the Malaysian Media Council was another progressive and welcome move for media freedom.
He said the council would act as a self-regulatory body that sets the standards for the media community to build and maintain trust in the industry, as well as act as an arbitration body between the public and the media in the interests of all Malaysians.
“This is to ensure that as this country progresses towards developed nation status, there are checks and balances of the government by a free media in an atmosphere of transparency and accountability,” he said.
Gobind added that as a government that respects and promotes freedom of information and expression, “we not only expect high standards from all stakeholders but it must come with a heavy responsibility to propagate credible news and information”.
“This credibility is much needed in order for us to build honest and truthful journalism which inspires trust - a most important benchmark in the media industry today and the future,” he said. – Bernama