KUALA LUMPUR – Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today called on the local and international media to maintain the trust of readers by leading the fight against the tide of fake and false news.
The prime minister said the tide of fake and false news threatened to turn truth into a purely subjective matter with little relation to the actual facts.
“We are far from immune to this problem here in Malaysia. We have had former leaders talking about Malaysia going bankrupt.
“We have had people talking about Malaysia being in danger of becoming a failed state. And unfortunately, when the government s opponents spread fake news, some people believe them, because they believe – wrongly – that they would not lie,” he said.
Najib said this when addressing the Publish Asia event and the 16th Asian Media Awards organised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers here tonight.
Also present were Bernama chairman Datuk Seri Azman Ujang and Marcelo Rech who is the WAN-IFRA World Editor Forum president.
In fact, Najib said, the huge amount of foreign direct investment the Government had secured, demonstrated that people around the world believe Malaysia is a good place to do business, to grow new business and to expand, .
“They are not wrong. In fact, BAV Consulting and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania recently published a report in which they named Malaysia as the best country to invest in. They said we were the clear front runner. Does that sound like a failed state to you?,” he asked..
The prime minister said the trend for fake news and false reporting was not confined to Malaysian social media.
“A well-known foreign newspaper has taken to printing complete lies about the Government. They did that, for instance, about the appointment of a new governor for Bank Negara last year.
“They scandalously even brought His Majesty, the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong, into it as well. All without a shred of evidence, and based solely on nameless, anonymous sources who may not even exist. And multiple sources, including independent authorities, that don t fit part of their narrative, they brazenly ignore.
“They allowed themselves to be used as media proxies of those seeking to interfere in a sovereign nation and change a democratically-elected government mid-cycle. Their supposed journalistic ethics evaporated in their selfish quest for personal fame,” he said.
Regarding the undisputed facts about Malaysia, Najib said Malaysia had years of healthy growth and even in these difficult times for the global economy, Malaysia registered growth of 4.2 percent in 2016.
“We expect a slightly higher figure for this year, and for it to rise in 2018. These figures show Malaysia growing at more than double the rates the IMF (International Monetary Fund) predicts for advanced economies over the same time period.”
He added, between 2010 and 2016, Malaysia created 1.8 million jobs, of which over one million were high-income jobs. Gross National Income increased by nearly 50 per cent. We have almost eradicated poverty, reducing it to just 0.6 per cent.
“We have kept inflation and unemployment low, and have been acclaimed by global institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF for the reforms we have undertaken,” he said.
He said free speech was ‘thriving’ in Malaysia, pointing to the regular criticism of government, ministers and officials in Malaysian media.