Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil yesterday assured that the government would not treat the media in an iron-fisted manner.
He said the government held firm to the principle of defending the rights and freedom of the media in reporting, but stressed that it would not compromise on defamatory and inaccurate reports.
For example, he said, during the recent state polls, a popular media outlet had published a report claiming that a politician had been arrested. Upon checking, however, it was found to be fake news.
"So, about such matters, my hope is that the media can discuss them to ensure that they do not recur because when it comes to reporting, it is as important to be first as it is to be right.
"My guarantee is that we (the government) will not be iron-fisted. That is the assurance that I can give to our media friends," he told reporters after the launch of the Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya-level Kita Madani Aspirasi Malaysia 2023 programme at the Pantai Eco Park Community Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
He was responding to calls by NGO Reporters Without Borders for the government and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to stop blocking the websites of news portals said to be not pro-government.
Fahmi said media freedom under the current government was much better than it had been under the previous administration because throughout his tenure as minister, not a single journalist had been arrested by police and no newspaper had been shut down.
He said that for the good of the media, the government was striving to immediately enact the Malaysian Media Council Act which would hopefully function as a platform for the discussion of issues involving reporting ethics, discipline and welfare.