PETALING JAYA: It is inappropriate of Fahmi Fadzil as the Communications and Digital Minister to describe a report on the overnight policy rate (OPR) by Berita Harian as defamatory, says Tan Sri Johan Jaafar.
The veteran journalist also said he was disappointed at Fahmi, who is also the Unity Government spokesperson, over his remarks against Berita Harian.
"He (Fahmi) should’ve known that the report quoted the views and predictions of analysts.
"It is a normal practice in reporting that the views of political analysts are quoted for news or current political issues," said Johan in a statement on Saturday (April 1).
Johan said that in democracy, views that support and criticise the government should be given space.
Johan also said Fahmi’s remarks had sowed public distrust against the media, adding that this was not the first time it had happened.
Johan said that Fahmi had previously criticised a report on the public perception of the Unity Government that was conducted by five mainstream media outlets.
"This is unhealthy where ministers dispute media reports that don't side with them.
"In my opinion, this happens because the said minister is not mature enough to handle media issues," added Johan.
Fahmi was recently criticised by media groups after he described the Berita Harian news article on financial projection as being defamatory.
On Friday (March 31), Fahmi said the Facebook post by Berita Harian regarding its news report on the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) had caused confusion that spiralled into a slander.
"The article only quoted the views of an analyst and I have no issues with the report.
"But, the Facebook post has a very different meaning because it gives an impression that the Bank Negara or the government had made a decision (on the matter)," said Fahmi.
"This is inaccurate and unfair to Bank Negara and the government," added Fahmi.
Fahmi said he met with Berita Harian group editor Datuk Ahmad Zaini Kamaruzzaman and Media Prima’s top management after Friday prayers on Friday (March 31) to discuss the matter.
"Berita Harian’s management understood what I meant in this matter and they agreed to correct the post.
"I thank the management for cooperation," said Fahmi in a Facebook post on Friday (March 31).
Fahmi said views were exchanged during the meeting in regards to press freedom, journalistic ethics, and economic challenges faced by the industry.
"I respect and I will always defend the rights and freedom of the media.
"But, reprimands have to be made if there were misunderstandings that could lead to defamation, such as when the chosen headline has a different meaning from the actual content," added Fahmi.