Media freedom shows promising changes – Johan Jaafar

Media freedom shows promising changes – Johan Jaafar

KUALA LUMPUR — Freedom of the press, which is one of the pillars of democracy, has shown promising changes in this country, said National Journalism Laureate Johan Jaafar.

Media freedom took a massive leap after the 14th general election (GE14) in May 2018, he added.

“We have to understand that there is no absolute freedom in the media world, or anywhere else. But overall, there was a very good change after 2018, encouraging freedom for the media,” he told Bernama.

According to Johan, press freedom begins with a commitment by the government for the media to perform its role as the fourth estate after the executive, legislature and judiciary.

The veteran journalist said media agencies should not be deemed as opposing the government when they publish articles that are critical of the policies or actions taken by the government.

The World Press Freedom Index 2022 released by the non-profit group Reporters Without Borders (RSF), ranked Malaysia 113 out of 180 countries, up six places from the previous year, and the highest among Asean countries, ahead of Thailand (115), Indonesia (117), Singapore (139), Cambodia (142), Brunei (144), Philippines (147), Laos (161), Vietnam (174) and Myanmar (176).

Communications and digital minister Fahmi Fadzil was reported to have said that press freedom is one of the commitments of the unity government in ensuring there is an effective check and balance process of the administration.

The National Journalists Day (Hawana) 2023 celebrations, which will be held in Ipoh, Perak from May 27 to 29, carries the theme “Media Bebas dan Selamat, Tunjang Demokrasi” (Free and Secure Media, A Pillar of Democracy) to re-emphasise the issues of press freedom and the safety of journalists in carrying out their duties.

Dr Noor Nirwandy Mat Noordin, a security and political analyst with Universiti Teknologi Mara’s (UiTM) Centre for Media and Information Warfare Studies, said the media voice was crucial in ensuring that matters of public interest are given attention such as the issue of rising prices of goods.

However, he said media freedom should be practised accordingly, especially in helping to create a security mindset among the community.

“This is an important matter to ensure that our country is protected from issues related to racial sensitivity, security and economic sabotage,” he said.

Meanwhile, media advocacy group Gerakan Media Merdeka (GERAMM) training coordinator Imran Noordin welcomed the decision to include the “secure” element in the theme of Hawana 2023 considering that the challenges that journalists must face have now grown, not only in terms of physical threats but also other forms of intimidation, such as cyberbullying.


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