‘Govt must walk the talk on press freedom’

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (in blue) arriving and visiting the media booths at the Hawana 2023 at Meru Casuarina Ipoh.

PETALING JAYA: Journalists need more assurances from the government that press freedom will be protected despite Putrajaya’s recent calls for the media to report without fear or favour, says the National Union of Journalists Malaysia (NUJM).

Its president Farah Marshita Abdul Patah acknowledged Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s call for journalists to remain vocal against the government.

“But we also need assurances that there will be no penalties against us when we perform our duty,” Farah Marshita said when responding to the Prime Minister’s remarks at yesterday’s 2023 National Journalists’ Day celebration (Hawana) in Perak.

Although she thanked the government for announcing a welfare fund for veterans and former journalists, Farah Marshita said Putrajaya could have done more for the industry.

“The allocation by Anwar solidified the government’s efforts to recognise media practitioners’ hard work and services to the country,” she said of the RM1mil Tabung Kasih @ Hawana that was announced yesterday.

“We expected more from a government that champions press freedom, and are waiting for the government to establish the Malaysian Media Council (MMC).”

Earlier, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil said his ministry was working towards forming the MMC as it had been a pledge by the Pakatan Harapan coalition since 2018.

Farah Marshita said Anwar could have provided further assurances that the council would be set up to protect the welfare of both current and former journalists.

“There are several issues that the media face regardless of platform such as copyright infringement, renumeration for freelancers as well as union-busting by certain companies,” she added.

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