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Fahmi up in arms over report on possible OPR hike

The communications minister says he will meet with the management of Berita Harian after accusing it of publishing 'lies'.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
2 minute read
Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil. Photo: Bernama
Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil. Photo: Bernama

Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil came under fire from social media users today after expressing anger at a typical report quoting analysts' prediction of a hike in the overnight policy rate (OPR) within the next few months. 

The analysts in the report by Berita Harian had expected Bank Negara Malaysia to raise the OPR by 25 percentage points as early as July, citing economic forecasts driven by strong domestic demand following recovery in the employment sector.  

But Fahmi, whose management of press freedom was previously criticised by some, described the report as a lie. 

"This is a lie," he said in comments posted on Facebook. 

"The article clearly states that this is the view of analysts, not the decision of the central bank or the government. Berita Harian Online must correct this and explain." 

He later announced that he would meet with the management of the Malay daily. 

Fahmi's description of the report was met with scepticism by some Facebook users who urged him to take a relook. 

They also pointed him to the word "expected", meaning that the OPR hike would not necessarily take place. 

"YB Fahmi Fadzil, try to understand," said Facebook user Faizal Ariffin. 

"It said 'expected', it didn't confirm that the OPR would increase. Check the dictionary."

"Expected means that this is based on sources who have done research on the matter," added user Firdaus Saleh.

"Even simple things have been made complicated." 

"This is what analysts expect," Khairil Anwar said. "Where is the lie?

"To consider something like this a lie is a serious matter. Isn't Pakatan Harapan the champion of freedom of speech?" 

Other Facebook users meanwhile agreed with Fahmi, calling for strict action against the daily. 

"Call the senior editor and issue him a show-cause letter. Tell him to respond within 48 hours," Shidi Shidiamin said. 

"We have to be firm without giving face to those involved." 

This is not the first time Fahmi has courted public criticism since assuming his ministerial portfolio, which is largely seen as an oversight of media organisations in the country.

Earlier this month, he questioned the findings of a survey carried out by several media agencies on the first 100 days of the government, saying the findings were unreliable and not truly reflective of the people’s views.

The survey, among others, found that only 27% of respondents were satisfied with the performance of the government in tackling issues on race relations and economic growth, while 26% felt that the government had handled the food supply issue well.

"I will meet with the newspapers concerned to get clarification. Are they trying to do some promotion or deceive the people?" he had said on March 1.