KUALA LUMPUR – Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said non mainstream media should not use freedom of expression to degrade the country.
Ahmad Zahid, who is Home Minister, said the call was not to restrict freedom, but a reminder on the importance of handling a media organisation with a sense of responsibility towards the country and the people’s interests in mind.
Journalists should always be responsible for whatever they wrote and at the same time strengthen and enhance their identities and self-esteem, he said when launching the 2014 National Journalism Award, here yesterday.
Ahmad Zahid said the non mainstream media could emulate the ethics of journalism shown by the mainstream media in carrying out its responsibilities, despite the differences in opinion.
“In my opinion, those who are in this virtual world of journalism should learn from the journalism ethics of the mainstream media.
“Despite the differences of opinion, they (mainstream) still write and deliver (news) with care and good journalistic ethics. And this should be set as an example,” said Ahmad Zahid.
He pointed out that differences of opinion should be resolved and addressed well, with decency and wisdom, so that the values of harmony and ethics could be maintained, regardless of race and religion.
He reminded the media not to present messages to pit, distort issues, and create discord besides being ‘kering jiwa’ (soulless) and unnationalistic.
He said there were attempts by certain quarters lately through the new media to portray Malaysia as a chaotic, devastated and failed state.
In addition, he said, ‘media trial on the guilt or innocence of a person’ was on the rise in recent years, which should not happen and was unethical.
At the ceremony, Ahmad Zahid presented the National Journalism Award to former editor-in-chief of Bernama, who is also former Berita Harian group editor, Datuk Ahmad Rejal Arbee, and former deputy associate editor of The New Straits Times, the late Zainon Ahmad.
The award was in recognition of the contribution of the two veteran journalists in journalism in the country over the past four decades.
At the event, a cash prize of RM30,000 and certificate was awarded to Ahmad Rejal and the family members of Zainon.
Among the veteran journalists who have received the award were Tan Sri A. Samad Ismail, Tan Sri Lee Siew Yee, Tan Sri Mazlan Nordin, former Information Minister Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin and Datuk Liew Chen Chuan.
Ahmad Rejal was among the first journalists to explore the concept of bilingual media and was also among the founding staff of Bernama.
Meanwhile, Zainon who received the award posthumously, was known as a columnist who frequently aired critical views in efforts to unite the country.