KUALA LUMPUR, 6 April 2009: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today stressed on the need of world-class and fact-based reporting in Malaysia and the media must be fair and responsible in their reporting.
“This is crucial if we are to foster a constructive debate about our nation’s future. I believe we can move beyond those who offer the journalism a conspiracy theory and rumour,” he said at the Malaysia Press Institute-Petronas Journalist Awards Night 2008, here.
Najib said responsible reporting does not mean taking side of the government but instead responsible reporting means looking more sceptically and critically at some of the claims from all sides and rumours which make up ‘too great part of our political discourse’.
“This is not just true in Malaysia, but such distortions also exist even in the most advanced nations in the world,” he said.
Najib said the power of the media, particularly the print and broadcast media, is not only in reporting the news but also in lending credibility to stories and rumours that percolate up from the grassroots and the internet.
“The media best serves the public interest when it goes beyond the superficial; when it asked the tough questions of the rumour-mongers; when it does not lend credence to false innuendo, and instead report on facts and details — whether that is helpful to the government or not,” he said.
Najib also said personal attacks have undermined public confidence in the political process and “done nothing to bring us closer to achieving the goals we have for this country”.
“I have endured my fair share of these from some quarters of the media. I will always stand up and be accountable for the decision I made as your Prime Minister.
“But I also know that the personal slurs and false accusations levelled against national leaders are deeply damaging to our nation’s political discourse and international reputation,” he said.
He said countering such personal attacks is not the sole responsibility of any one party or any one person but it is the responsibility of every responsible individual.
“So, today, I call on all parties, all political leaders and all people who want to engage in a new national conversation about the future of our nation — including the media — to do so in a way that respects opinions of others, that values discussions and discourse and that recognises that opponents need not be enemies, that differences of opinion do not come from malicious motives, but from a deep and abiding concern for the future of Malaysia,” he said.
Najib also said a new national discourse on the principles of transparency and accountability, service to all and respect and fairness in the public dialogue with the interest of every Malaysians at heart, must be established.
“A vibrant political and public dialogue is the best way forward for our country; the times demand it and the people expect it. Let us not fail them,” he added. — Bernama
Words are cheap. Umno and friends can take the lead by disposing off their interests in the mainstream media. Then, perhaps, the citizens will take Najib’s words a little more seriously.