Melaka Declaration 2022: Give space to journalists to deliver authentic, balanced reports


MELAKA: Malaysian journalists unanimously called for the group to be given space to deliver authentic and balanced reports, in accordance with the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

This was among the five points of the Melaka Declaration 2022, read by the Berita Harian acting group editor, Datuk Ahmad Zaini Kamaruzzaman (pic), at the highlight of the National Journalists Day (Hawana) 2022 celebrations here Sunday (May 29).

The declaration was then handed over to Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob by Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) editor-in-chief Khairdzir Yunus, accompanied by Broadcasting Department director-general Datuk Che Roslan Che Daud and Star Media Group chief content officer Esther Ng.

Accompanying them were Sin Chew Daily editor-in-chief Kuik Cheng Kang; Sinar Harian Group editor-in-chief Rozaid Rahman; Tamil Malar Daily managing director Datuk M. Periasamy; Media Prima Television Networks News and Current Affairs head Kamaruddin Mape; and Ahmad Zaini.

The declaration stated that in preserving and elevating the dignity of journalism, media personnel should be given the freedom to carry out their duties as well as possible, without hindrance or restriction from any party.

"In this way, journalists can prepare reports that uphold the values of integrity, as well as being relevant and accurate," it read.

The declaration also stated that trustworthy and responsible journalism was an important asset in the development of the nation state.

"Therefore, journalism must maintain its function and role to monitor the conduct and governance of the country, so that the administration operates with integrity in all aspects,” it said.

Through the Melaka Declaration 2022, journalists also pledged that accredited media organisations should work together to combat the spread of fake news that could tarnish the good name of individuals, organisations and the government.

"The internet expedites the process of delivering news and information. Social media has a huge influence on today’s society.

"Therefore, social media can be misused to spread fake news and information that is deliberately generated to grab the attention of internet users and to become hot or trending issues,” stated the declaration.

The declaration also called on journalists to uphold the Constitution and the principles of the Rukun Negara, because they were a part of the nation-building process and contributed to fostering inter-racial harmony and national unity.

Apart from that, the Melaka Declaration 2022 stated that as the bedrock in driving the direction of the country, journalists had a role to play in ensuring that integrity becomes a practice of national governance.

"This can thwart practices associated with abuse of power, breach of trust, corruption and malpractice in Malaysia,” it added. - Bernama

The full text of the Melaka Declaration 2022 is as follows:

THE MELAKA DECLARATION 2022

Malaysian journalists uphold the supremacy of the Constitution and the principles of the Rukun Negara. We uphold freedom of speech and press freedom to ensure the survival of a healthy and vibrant democratic system.

Journalists and the media in developing countries such as Malaysia play a vital role as the eyes and heart of the people besides being the voice of the masses, and also act as a check and balance as well as being the conscience of a nation-state.

We are aware of the challenges of maintaining harmony in a multi-racial country that accentuates diversity. At the same time, we understand that the dynamism of the media world and the traditions in journalism are rapidly changing due to the power of the Internet and social media.

Nevertheless, our responsibilities in the context of ethics and professionalism have not changed. We understand that this profession must remain independent and function uninterrupted to ensure the best in terms of national integrity and governance.

Malaysian journalists also play a role in delivering true and authentic information to address the issue of widespread fake news. What matters in today’s world is not only the accuracy of news but also the speed in its delivery as well as its effectiveness.

Therefore, in conjunction with Hawana on Sunday, May 29, 2022, Malaysian journalists hereby unanimously make the Melaka Declaration 2022 as follows:

SAFEGUARDING AND RECOGNISING JOURNALISM AS A NATIONAL INSTITUTION

Journalism is a profession that can influence the sentiments or attitudes of society through generated reports and writings. Therefore, journalism must maintain its function and role to monitor the conduct and governance of the country so that the administration operates with integrity in all aspects.

Trustworthy and responsible journalism is an important asset in the development of the nation-state.

RESPECTING THE RIGHT OF JOURNALISTS TO DISCHARGE THEIR DUTIES

In preserving and elevating the dignity of journalism and press freedom, journalists must be given the space to deliver authentic and balanced reports in accordance with the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. As such, journalists should be given the freedom to discharge their duties as best as they can without any hindrance at all.

UPHOLDING THE CONSTITUTION AND PRINCIPLES OF RUKUN NEGARA

Journalists who uphold Malaysian Journalism Ethics respect the principles of the Rukun Negara, namely Belief in God; Loyalty to King and Country; Upholding the Constitution; Rule of Law; and Good Behaviour and Morality. At the same time, freedom of speech, press freedom and the right of association contribute to the creation of an environment conducive to a democratic system. As such, journalists are a part of the nation-building process and contribute to fostering inter-racial harmony and national unity.

JOURNALISM ENNOBLES INTEGRITY

As the bedrock in driving the direction of the country, journalists have a role to play in ensuring that integrity becomes a practice of national governance. This can thwart practices associated with abuse of power, breach of trust, corruption and malpractice in Malaysia.

COMBATING FAKE NEWS

The traditional media plays the role of delivering information to the public. The internet simplifies the role of the media despite it being more challenging. The internet expedites the process of delivering news and information. Social media has a huge influence on today’s society. Social media can be misused to spread fake news and information that are deliberately generated to grab the attention of netizens and to become hot or trending issues. Responsible media organisations need to work together to combat the spread of fake news that can tarnish the good name of individuals, organisations and the government.

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