Report: Line must be drawn in terms of media freedom, especially on 3R issues, says Anwar

THERE is a need to draw a line in terms of media freedom, especially when it comes to issues that could incite hatred based on race, religion and royalty, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Speaking at the National Journalists’ Day (Hawana) 2024 event in Kuching, Sarawak, Anwar said while anyone is permitted to criticise or disagree with the government, one must not incite hatred towards royalty or promote religious fanaticism, NST reported.

“I want to become the prime minister who upholds a free media, but we have to draw the line. While you are permitted to criticise or disagree with the prime minister or the government, you can’t incite hatred based on race, royalty or religious fanaticism,” he was quoted as saying.

“There was a recent incident where His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, was criticised, or there was an insinuation that the king is now negotiating with the prime minister to build a casino in Forest City, partly owned by the king. However, there is no basis for this claim.

“We want to protect the institution. There must be some mechanisms protecting the royal institution.

“The king is supposed to embody the national spirit, be the fountain of mercy, and a symbol of unity. Therefore, you can’t drag him into the mud of politics.”

The prime minister further acknowledged that for the country to achieve a mature democracy, there must be a free media.

He also noted that supporting religious fanaticism, such as a fatwa from a political party’s religious scholar saying that Muslims cannot vote for a non-Muslim to be a people’s representative, would “destroy the country”.

“Do you accept a fatwa from a so-called scholar from a political party saying that Muslims cannot support a non-Muslim to be elected in the country? Of course, you cannot. It will destroy the country,” he remarked.

“We will not tolerate this (religious fanaticism) as it will break the foundation of this country. Don’t confuse this issue with media freedom. You can use the media to explain, but you are inciting so much hatred.

“Saying that Muslims cannot vote for non-Muslims is not acceptable in this country, and we will not allow this.”

The three-day Hawana 2024, themed “Etika Teras Kewartawanan Mapan” (“Ethics, the Thrust of Sustainable Journalism”), is the largest gathering of Malaysian journalists organised by the Communications Ministry in collaboration with the Sarawak government, while Bernama is the implementing agency. – May 27, 2024


Main pic credit: Bernama

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