Media freedom shows promising changes - Johan Jaafar

30 Apr 2023 10:54am
Johan Jaafar
Johan Jaafar
KUALA LUMPUR - Freedom of the press, which is one of the pillars of democracy, has shown promising changes in this country.

National Journalism Laureate Tan Sri Johan Jaafar said media freedom took a massive leap after the 14th General Election in May 2018.

"We have to understand that there is no absolute freedom in the media world, or anywhere else. But overall, there is a very good change after 2018, there is encouraging freedom in terms of the media," he told Bernama.

According to him, freedom of the media begins with the commitment of the government for the media to perform its role as the fourth estate after the executive, legislature and judiciary.

The veteran journalist said media agencies should not be deemed as opposing the government when they publish articles that are critical of the policies or actions taken by the government.

The World Press Freedom Index 2022 released by the non-profit group Reporters Without Borders (RSF), ranked Malaysia at the 113th position out of 180 countries, up six places from the previous year, and the highest among ASEAN countries, ahead of Thailand (115), Indonesia (117), Singapore (139), Cambodia (142), Brunei (144), Philippines (147), Laos (161), Vietnam (174) and Myanmar (176).

Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil was reported as saying that media freedom is one of the commitments of the Unity Government led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in ensuring there is an effective check and balance process of the administration.

The National Journalists Day (HAWANA) 2023 celebrations which will be held in Ipoh, Perak from May 27 to 29 carry the theme ‘Media Bebas dan Selamat, Tunjang Demokrasi’ (Free and Secure Media, A Pillar of Democracy) to re-emphasise the issues of media freedom and the safety of journalists in carrying out their duties.

Security and political analyst attached to Universiti Teknologi Mara’s (UiTM) Centre for Media and Information Warfare Studies, Dr Noor Nirwandy Mat Noordin said the media voice was crucial in ensuring that matters of public interest are given attention such as the issue of rising prices of goods.

However, he said media freedom should be practised accordingly, especially in helping to create a security mindset among the community

"This is an important matter to ensure that our country is protected from issues related to racial sensitivity, security and economic sabotage," he said.

Meanwhile, media advocacy group Gerakan Media Merdeka (GERAMM) training coordinator Imran Noordin welcomed the decision to include the 'secure' element in the theme of HAWANA 2023 considering that the challenges that journalists must face have now grown, not only in the form of physical security threats but also other forms of intimidation such as cyberbullying. - BERNAMA