Media as fourth estate to provide checks and balances on governance - Fahmi

25 Jan 2023 05:26pm
Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil. 
Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil. 
KUALA LUMPUR - Media as the fourth estate need to be given space to provide checks and balances as well as oversights on governance as long as it is within the ambit of the law, said Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil.

He said in return, state-owned media agencies and privately owned media are reminded to serve the interests of the rakyat and not to fulfil any unseen agenda or any personal, private interests.

"I think as long as it is clear that the initiatives, the kind of stories, journalistic activism, if I may say that way serve the rakyat, I think it will benefit the nation.

"When media start acting on behalf of certain parties, certain individuals, or vested interests, we have to assess them to make sure that they do not run against the principle of good governance,” he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama recently.

When asked about the allegation made by a certain faction that the current government is trying to restrict media freedom, the minister said: "No, we are not trying to restrict media freedom, we are trying to stop slander. Bribery is bribery, even if you call it donation”.

Fahmi said his ministry is working closely with the social media service providers and they have been informed of the Malaysian laws and culture in which they have to acknowledge and operate within.

He said most media platforms are equipped with artificial intelligence programmes to sift through and remove materials that are contrary to the platform community guidelines.

"We have no intention of shutting down or curbing the use (of social media) but we are drawing the line so that if anyone were to cross or to transgress the law, law enforcement will automatically take action.

"Just like if you were to write or post something which runs contrary to community guidelines for those apps. I think we have the community guidelines on how these apps navigate freedom of speech while adhering to laws, but (in Malaysia) we also have our law and culture, so I think these will help to navigate a lot of these new terrains,” he said.
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He said this when asked about the ministry's course of action to navigate issues pertaining to the 3R- race, religion and royalty - as user-generated content is bombarding the alternative media landscape.

On the suggestion that Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 should be repealed, Fahmi said it is not a priority at the moment, but the law must not be abused.

He said the Communications and Digital Ministry is expected to make some announcements that will be good for the press and for the people who consume news in May in conjunction with National Journalists Day (HAWANA).

HAWANA which is celebrated annually on May 29 is the recognition and appreciation from the government for media practitioners to honour their contributions in helping to develop the country and strengthen unity. - BERNAMA