KUALA LUMPUR, 22 Oct 2008: The proposed National Media Council (NMC)is not to restrict press freedom but to ensure the media in the country is more transparent and responsible, said Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek.
He said many countries had their own press commissions or media councils because it was a better way to run the media.
“Some countries like the United Kingdom have press complaint commissions where people dissatisfied because they had been defamed or put in a bad light can seek remedy,” he told reporters after attending his ministry’s Aidilfitri open house at Angkasapuri.
He said this when asked if the intention to establish the council was to restrict press freedom in the country.
On 20 Oct, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the council would be established soon to identify existing weaknesses to ensure better accuracy in reporting.
Ahmad Shabery said having the council would also put an end to the prevailing perception that if complaints were made about the government, it would take a long time before action was taken.
Ahmad Shabery said before the NMC was formed, his ministry would be holding discussions with stakeholders to identify existing weaknesses so that appropriate remedial action could be taken.
“This is a serious matter as it concerns how the Fourth Estate can be better supervised so that it is more transparent and responsible.
“When we say more responsible, we do not want to see only the agenda of certain groups being pushed forward and not the interests of all Malaysians,” he said, adding that the models in countries like Australia and the UK would be studied before the matter was finalised.
He also said bloggers and internet media practitioners must also be held responsible though the numbers abusing the medium was small.
“They (bloggers and internet media practitioners) must also be more responsible and not publish lies and falsehoods. Also in the context of multiracial harmony, it is important to know when to exercise restraint,” he said.
He said the overriding concern in having the council was to preserve the peace and national harmony.
“It is all about maintaining a balance. There cannot be absolute freedom neither can there be too much restrictions,” he added. — Bernama