Media freedom crucial but no room for racists and bigots, says Anwar


KUCHING: The Federal Government will always uphold media freedom while protecting national harmony, says Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The Prime Minister said democracy required a free media, which entailed the space and freedom to express ideas, views and information.

At the same time, he said ethical and humanitarian principles must not be disregarded.

"If you allow racism to flourish or religious bigotry to have a free hand in this country, then you must expect racial strife and religious disharmony.

"I don't mind if we are downgraded by RSF (Reporters Without Borders) because we come down hard on racists and religious bigots.

"Protecting religious minorities and harmony is more important than getting high marks on an international index," Anwar said at the National Journalists Day (Hawana) celebration's highlight event here on Monday (May 27).

It was reported earlier this month that Malaysia had dropped 34 places to 107th in the World Press Freedom Index in 2024.

Malaysia scored 52.07 in the index report released by RSF.

Anwar said a code of ethics was important to ensure that media freedom was not abused.

"I want to be a prime minister who upholds the principle of a free media but we also have to draw a line.

"While you are permitted to criticise the government, you cannot incite racial and religious hatred or hatred against royalty.

"There must be limits. You cannot use freedom to divide and plant seeds of hatred that will destroy the nation," he said.

Meanwhile, Anwar announced an allocation of RM1mil for Tabung Kasih@Hawana, which provides financial assistance to current and former journalists in need.

He said the government would continue the allocation this year after giving the same amount last year.

Anwar also allocated RM1mil to the Bernama Centre of Excellence for training programmes, especially in digital technology.

At the event, the Prime Minister presented the Hawana Awards 2024 to the Kuching Division Journalists Association and veteran journalist James Alexander Ritchie.

He also handed over assistance from Tabung Kasih@Hawana to a recipient.

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Anwar Ibrahim , Media Freedom , Harmony , Hawana

   

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