KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said on Thursday (Sep 12) that it is important to have media that are free to report the truth, "even if it may be in the form of criticism of the government".
Describing the media as an influential force in democracies, the minister said they are 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 themselves to be compromised or intimidated in any way,” he said in his opening speech at the UCESCO Open Talks in Kuala Lumpur.
Mr Gobind said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition had pledged to review, repeal and abolish laws and provisions deemed oppressive when it came into power last year.
“These laws include those that curtail freedom of expression and human rights,” he said.
The imminent formation of the Malaysian Media Council is another progressive move for media freedom, the minister added.
The council will act as a self-regulatory body that will set the standards for the media community to build and maintain trust in the industry, he said.
It will also 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 the free media in an atmosphere of transparency and accountability.”
Mr Gobind said the media also help to create and maintain connections between various groups in society.
“They socialise and educate us, and ‘guide’ us towards accepting certain ideas or perspectives and, of course, entertain us by tailoring over-the-top (OTT) content to our requirement and preferences,” he said.