The National Union of Journalists Peninsular Malaysia (NUJM) today hit out at Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil over his remarks on a report about the central bank's overnight policy rate (OPR), saying such reports are a typical form of news coverage by news agencies nationwide.
"It is also the norm for media agencies to publicise their stories on their respective social media platforms which are open to the public in delivering the latest news," it said.
"As minister in charge of media, Fahmi should have been aware of this common practice where the media will run stories based on the opinion and projections of industry experts."
Fahmi had expressed anger at a report by Berita Harian quoting analysts' prediction of a hike in the OPR by July, based on economic forecasts driven by strong domestic demand following recovery in the employment sector.
"This is a lie," he said in comments posted on Facebook, adding later that he would meet with the management of the Malay daily.
His remarks were met with scepticism by some users who pointed out, among others, the report's use of the word "expected".
NUJM said Fahmi's actions had undermined the story, adding that his comments could give rise to a negative public perception about the media.
"Where is the press freedom as promised by the new government if the media’s own 'minister' labelled an article by a local media on financial projection as 'slander'?
"NUJM hopes that the minister can be more understanding of the stories that the local media work produces as the country’s reliable, trusted, and credible news sources."