KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak wants to encourage respectable and fair dialogue on the countryâ€™s future involving the whole nation that takes place with a vibrant, free and informed media.
He said that to truly build a democracy responsive to the people’s needs, the country needed a media – both old and new – that was empowered to responsibly report what they sew, without fear of consequences, and to hold government and public officials accountable for the results they produced.
“That is why as one of my first official acts, I lifted the ban on two media outlets which are extensions of the Opposition at the federal level,” he said in his speech on Policy, Politics and the New Media – A New Way Forward at the MPI Press Awards Night Monday night.
Najib also said that when too much of political discourse had descended into rumours and name-calling, people turned off the traditional media and looked to interact directly with each other and with leaders as they sought dialogue as a nation and not just monologues from politicians.
Acknowledging that the new media played an important role in the countryâ€™s political and civic future, he said he wanted to encourage a debate that took place across all media and all parts of the country.
He urged all Malaysians to establish a “new national discourse” on; the principles of transparency and accountability; service to all, not just a few; and respect and fairness in the public dialogue.
The Prime Minister also said he wanted a world-class, fact based reporting and a media that was fair and responsible in its reporting so that it could foster a constructive debate about the nationâ€™s future.
“I believe we can move beyond those who offer the journalism of conspiracy theory and rumour,” he said.
However, he stressed that “responsible reporting” did not mean the media must take the Government’s side but it meant that it looked more skeptically and critically at some of the claims from all sides, especially rumours that made up too much of the political discourse.
“The media best serves the public interest when it goes beyond the superficial; when it asks the tough questions of the rumour mongers; when it does not lend credence to false innuendo and instead reports on facts and details – whether that is helpful to the Government or not,” he said.
Saying that personal attacks only undermined public confidence in the political process, Najib said he too had endured his fair share of these from some quarters of the media.
He pledged to be accountable for his decisions as Prime Minister, and said personal slurs and false accusations against national leaders were deeply damaging to the nationâ€™s political discourse and international reputation.
He called on all parties who wanted to engage in “a new national conversation about the nation’s future” to respect other’s opinion, value discussion and discourse, recognise that opponents need not be enemies and that differences of opinion did not come from malicious motives but from a concern for Malaysiaâ€™s future.
“In such a period of trial for economics around the world, ideas need to be tested, discussed and argued because so much is at stake,”he said.
He added that respectful dialogue must take place all over the country – in homes and in restaurants, in kampung and cities, in workplaces and friends’ gatherings and in the traditional media and rapidly growing online media.
On transparency and accountability, Najib said the Government sought to be more responsive to the people by committing to getting results and he cited the setting up of a website to provide data on allocation of the two stimulus packages as a measure offering greater transparency.
On what he gathered during his Saturday walkabout in the city, he said the people were not in despair or anger over the country’s political process but they wanted to be assured the Government would work hard for the people and they wanted to hold the Government accountable if it failed.
Najib also said that for Malaysia to achieve its long-term ambitions there must not only be policy renewal but political and institutional renewal.
“This will be a core principle of my Government; governing that reflects the best values, abilities and strengths of our people, our leaders and our nation,â€ he said, adding that the institutions, parties and public servants must work for the public interest and â€œnot narrow opportunism or political interests.”
Source : The Star