Malaysia needs independent media, brave to speak – Fahmi

IPOH — Malaysia not only needs an independent media but one that is also brave enough to speak without fear and favour, said Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil (picture).

Fahmi said such media is needed not only in terms of checks and balances but also to make sure that the voices heard will be recorded and reported.

“Malaysia is ranked 73rd in the World Press Freedom Index 2023, as released by Reporters Without Borders, the highest Malaysia achieved in many years. But this position should not be taken for granted; there’s a lot of work to be done.

“So, I hope these few days, friends of media will be able to think, through conversations, discussions that not only will help broaden our horizons but also carry on with investigation on what we need to do for the sake and future of this industry,” Fahmi said in his opening remarks at the HAWANA 2023 Media Forum here today.

Themed ‘The Future of Media’, the forum was jointly organised by the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) and the Institute of Broadcasting and Information Tun Abdul Razak (IPPTAR) in conjunction with National Journalists’ Day (HAWANA) 2023.

Fahmi said in line with the accelerated growth in the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) including in media industries, media practitioners should help the government to understand and address some of the regulatory challenges.

“Today some of the challenges that we face include the accelerated growth of the use of AI, and we have seen how a lot of countries are grappling with the question of AI, whether in media or at the government level.

“And yet in many jurisdictions and countries, this question is not being tackled. So, I hope friends of media who are here today will also help us to understand some of the regulatory challenges that we need to assess, to think through and adopt in terms of ensuring that AI ethics are addressed comprehensively by the government,” he said.

As the changing media landscape has left traditional media with no choice but to jump on the bandwagon, Fahmi urged traditional media to innovate and change, such as by adopting new technologies and embracing online platforms.

“It is important for them to have striking content and great storytelling to stand out from the crowd. The greater role of social media in people’s lives has raised another concern, the spread of fake news and disinformation,” he said.

Meanwhile, commenting on the organising of the Media Forum, Fahmi hoped it will be a platform for insightful and thought-provoking discussions, as well as innovative ideas to secure the future of the media in the country and region.

“My hope and wish is that from here, the relationship that we established will enable us to participate in a wider network of conversation throughout ASEAN, because all the biggest challenges we can’t face as either media organisations or countries alone.

“The challenge that ASEAN faces is something that friends of media have to help us (the government) as well. So a good and healthy relationship with media organisations across ASEAN is something which we hope to realise sometime in the near future,” he added.