KUALA LUMPUR: Media practitioners are reminded to take immediate measures to stop the publication of news which are of no benefit and confirming the truth of every write-up published in order to protect public peace in the country.
Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali said in the eagerness to uphold the principles of basic freedom, media practitioners should not forsake racial and religious harmony among the country’s plural society.
“As media practitioners, all of you must realise that the responsibility entrusted to you cannot be taken lightly because every article, view and report published can influence the thinking of Malaysians.
“It is most important that every report and publication are produced in a prudent and responsible manner, the freedom of speech must be balanced with good journalism ethics,” he said when speaking at the ‘Luncheon Talk With Media Editors and Practitioners’, here today.
The programe, organised jointly by the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI) and the Institute of Journalism Studies (IJS) with the theme ‘Media and the Law: National Perspective’, was attended by 100 participants comprising lecturers of Institutions of Higher Learning, sub-editors and journalists from various news agencies.
He said the dissemination of any inaccurate report could result in losses, chaos and disharmony which could not be undone, as such every word and phrase must be made prudently, with care and accuracy.
“It cannot be denied that the media today play a very important role and represent a major medium in the process of delivering news and information to every strata of society, in the present era the media possess extraordinary power that is capable of moulding the thinking and belief of the society on a particular issue,” he said.
Nevertheless, he said, the freedom of speech and expression among media practitioners in this country was not absolute and subjected to several legal limitations aimed at protecting security of the federation, cordial relations with other countries and public peace or moral principles.
He said the legal limitations were also in line with article 29(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which were formulated to give recognition and respect to the rights of other people and to achieve moral obligation, public peace and prosperity in a democratic society.
“As such, the power of the media that can influence the people should be used with responsibility for the development of the national agenda to preserve public peace and prosperity in a multi-racial nation,” he added.
In addition, he said, civil action could also be taken against media practitioners under the Defamation Act 1957 and ordered to pay compensation if it was proven that the report published carried slanderous elements and had resulted in the reputation of any party being affected by the report.
He said although no legal action under the Sedition Act had been taken against media practitioners so far, they should always be wary and avoid from publishing any article that had seditious tendency that could jeopardise harmony that was being enjoyed.
Mohamed Apandi said that as a developing and competitive nation, the government always endeavoured to take proactive measures in implementing changes that were necessary toward achieving improvement for the country.
“As a sovereign and independent nation, we have a massive right and responsibility in designing the best mould that is most suitable for the people and country. What is good for the other nations may not be suitable for Malaysia,” he said.