Nov 26, 2006

Newspapers Can Play Role Of Government Critic, Says Najib

This is called "Transparency" ?

KUANTAN, Nov 25 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said newspapers can play the role of government critic but the criticisms should be constructive and done in a responsible manner.

He said the important thing was the intention and objective of the newspapers and that they must be honest when publishing the issues at hand.

"Newspapers can criticise, but it must be made responsibly and aimed at correcting things. This will help the party criticised accept them (criticisms) positively.

"Leaders are only humans and if there is nobody to criticise us, then we may be carried away by our positions.In a democratic system, our fate lies in the hands of the people, as such it is best to be corrected early rather than be rejected by the people later," Najib said when launching the Pahang edition of the Malay tabloid, Kosmo!, here Saturday.

He said that the media should also play a key role in nurturing quality minds in line with globalisation, by providing reading materials that were intellectually challenging.

Najib said publishing companies should not only give priority to circulation but should adopt a holistic approach by providing reading materials that could develop the minds of Malaysians constructively.

"We must not view from one aspect or dimension only, it must be looked at as a whole," he said.

Asked whether there was a need for the media to be more transparent due to the easy access of information from other sources like the Internet, Najib said: "From what I can see, the mainstream media is playing a balanced role. We cannot compare with the alternative media like that in the Internet, which is not controlled at all."

Najib stressed that not all news on the Internet could be trusted as the information could not be independently verified.

"So, it is unfair to compare the mainstream media and the alternative media. I will like to see the media publishing stories that are correct, true and balanced," he said.

On freedom of the press, Najib said there was no total freedom per se as there were a lot of sensitivities in multi-racial Malaysia.

"Yes there is control over newspapers. As I said earlier there is no total freedom and newspapers must understand their responsibilities. I do not see this as a problem as there lots of space for newspapers to make their coverage.

"There is no control when it comes to the Internet as it is a different world altogether. What is important is control of the print media, especially the mainstream newspapers," Najib said.

Also present were Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob and executive chairman of Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Berhad Tan Sri Mohamed Hashim Makaruddin.

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