KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak recently suggested that Cabinet members should take media engagement courses and Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Hasan Malek is all for it.
Hasan said: “Any knowledge is valuable and I am up for it. I support any effort that can bring betterment for the Government, the country and the people.”
The matter was reportedly raised during a recent Cabinet meeting in which Najib had highlighted the importance of giving out “clear and proper explanations” on government policies.
A source said Najib had also told Cabinet members to be comprehensible and effective when responding to issues and making statements to the press.
“The Prime Minister was speaking about effectively engaging with the media when he suggested that we take up some training or attend courses to improve our skills,” he said.
A senior minister said media skills training for Cabinet members was not something new adding that he had undergone such a session a few years ago.
“The course proved valuable for me. I was exposed to many aspects of media relations and communication, including how to conduct press conferences well and deal with tough questions,” he said.
Former Information minister and former editor-in-chief of Utusan Malaysia Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin said while journalists could help educate ministers on effective media engagement, they had to be open-minded to the views and opinions from the press.
“Ministers must know what is it that the media want from them and know the right way to respond to questions. They must also know what to say and when to say it, rather than wanting to gain publicity and popularity with their statements but in the end disappoint the public by their lack of action,” he added.
Former Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Tan Sri Sabbaruddin Chik said Cabinet members during his days learned how to deal with the media through colleagues and experiences.
He said attending training courses might help today’s ministers to handle the media better.