Full freedom for Malaysian press must remain, provided responsibility is taken with issues that could trigger racial, religious enmity – PM Anwar

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at HAWANA (National Journalists’ Day) celebration in Ipoh.

IPOH, May 28 – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said full freedom must continue to be given to the Malaysian press, provided responsibility is exercised in the matters related to race and religion to ensure that enmity is not triggered in the course of reporting, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Delivering his speech at the launch of Hari Wartawan Malaysia (HAWANA) celebration here today, Anwar said with the changing times and a new political climate the members of his new government were clear in their decision that full press freedom must be accorded to journalists in the country.

Probable issues could arise only when any attempts are seen in the media with reports that could bring about racial or religious tensions and trigger riots and disturbances in the country, he said.

Other than that, criticisms against the prime minister or the leadership in the country should continue to be allowed and a culture of panic and fear among leaders should not be there.

The prime minister also said he was confident the government was on the right track but it was open to acknowledging it if there had been truly any weakness, the government was ready to apologise and making the suitable amends.

Anwar also urged journalists to move away from self-censorship if they are to ensure a climate of freedom and democracy.

The media’s role of instilling good values must also be given emphasis, he said, adding that journalists should not just be recorders of events but to give their ideas and impart their knowledge and inspire the younger generation of journalists with higher values.

He also called on journalists to give fair coverage to all parties, irrespective of whether they are in the government or opposition.

— WE