PETALING JAYA: Communications and digital minister Fahmi Fadzil has defended his ministry over recent restrictions on the media, saying it was necessary to ensure the accuracy of news coverage.
He promised not to impose an “iron-fist” treatment on the media industry as carried out by previous governments.
Fahmi said he had taken note of views expressed about recent restrictions on news portals.
“I accept the statements and views presented and I hope there are some improvements that can be made so that we continue to guarantee and defend the right of the media to continue reporting freely,” he said.
Last month, news website MalaysiaNow as well as broadcasters Awesome TV and TV Pertiwi complained that Malaysian internet users had been blocked from accessing their sites. They said no notice of such blocks had been given.
On Friday, international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on the government to stop blocking news portals which carried views critical of the government.
Fahmi said he was only informed about the blocks by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission after action had been taken.
“I have conveyed my views to them because they need to ensure that the actions taken do not create misunderstandings,” he said.
Fahmi said the media must make improvements regarding accurate reporting.
He said a news report during the state elections last month by a prominent media outlet had claimed that a politician had been arrested by the police, but it turned out to be false.
“My hope is that my media colleagues can discuss among themselves to ensure incidents like this do not reoccur because it’s as important to be accurate as it is to be fast in reporting,” he said.
Fahmi said his ministry would continue to uphold media freedom as pledged by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in May.