Fahmi: Malaysia needs independent, brave media

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Malaysia needs independent media that is also brave enough to speak with neither fear nor favour, says Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil.

Fahmi said such media is needed not only in terms of checks and balances but also to make sure that voices are heard, 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,” said Fahmi.

Fahmi added that he hopes that members of the media will be able to think and hold conversations and discussions that will broaden horizons and carry on with what needs to be done for the future of this industry.

He said this in his opening remarks at the Hawana 2023 Media Forum in Ipoh on Sunday (May 28).

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 that 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 governmental level.

“And yet in many jurisdictions and countries, this question is not being tackled. So, I hope that our media friends 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 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 said that he hopes 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,” said Fahmi.

He added that those in the media should help the government when it comes to the challenges Asean faces.

“Therefore, a good and healthy relationship with media organisations across Asean is something which we hope to realise in the near future,” he added.