WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY MESSAGE 2023:
The results of the World Media Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) last year showed that Malaysia had moved up six places from the previous year and ranked 113 out of 180 countries in the media freedom scale. This shows an increase in the protection of media freedom in our country.
However, this small improvement does not mean that we should be satisfied. The challenge of the media in the post-pandemic new millennium requires commitment and determination from all stakeholders in upholding the basic values of media freedom and the importance of the role of journalists in carrying on the trust they carry. As a developing democracy, Malaysia recognizes the importance of media freedom and the right to freedom of expression protected by law.
As journalists and members of society, we need to remind ourselves of the responsibilities and duties of journalism. Journalists should be responsible in reporting news objectively, honestly and accurately, as well as respecting the privacy and dignity of individuals. As a society, we also need to play our part in promoting media freedom by understanding and evaluating news sources critically.
The role of the Unity Government is also more important to restore greater media freedom, at a time when there are still issues such as media control laws that continue to be debated. We need a stronger commitment from government and authorities to ensure greater and effective media freedom.
The proposed establishment of a Malaysian media council that was revived by the current government can be a good step to promote and protect media freedom. This council can give a voice to journalists and local media, and help reduce pressure and surveillance from the authorities. However, it should have high credibility and be free from political or commercial influence.
There is still the phenomenon of spreading false information or so-called “fake news” that can damage the image and dignity of individuals or institutions, and so the public needs to examine the credibility of news sources before spreading them. Therefore, the media’s role in promoting public awareness and forming a critical mind is important for the success of fighting “fake news”.
Therefore, all parties need to take appropriate action to protect and promote media freedom in Malaysia. There needs to be a joint effort between the authorities, journalists and the community in building a conducive environment for independent media to grow. We also need to strengthen the credibility and quality of the local media to be more effective in playing their respective roles.
Finally, we in Geramm thank the journalists and media in Malaysia who have fought to fight for the truth and fight for media freedom. We hope that media freedom in Malaysia will continue to be fought for and improved in the future.
Festina Veritatem, Defende Libertatem (Celebrate truth, defend freedom)