Friday, July 15, 2005

"Alternative sources do not bother to uphold high standards that reputable (MSM) organisations try to maintain"

UCAPAN
Y.A.B. DATO’ SERI ABDULLAH HAJI AHMAD BADAWI
PERDANA MENTERI MALAYSIA
SEMPENA PERSIDANGAN MEDIA MASSA 2005
ANJURAN KEMENTERIAN KESELAMATAN DALAM NEGERI
HOTEL MARRIOT PUTRAJAYA,
JUMAAT, 15 JULAI 2005, 9.00 PAGI


LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

13. WORDS ON THE PRINTED PAGE AND IMAGES PROJECTED ON THE SCREEN PROBABLY DO MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE TO SHAPE THE PUBLIC’S IDEAS AND PERCEPTIONS ABOUT THE WORLD AND THE ISSUES OF THE DAY. THIS POWER HAS BEEN AMPLIFIED BY THE ADVANCES IN TECHNOLOGY AND THE INCREASING PROLIFERATION OF MEDIA ORGANISATIONS. MALAYSIANS ARE NOW SPOILT FOR CHOICE. DOMESTICALLY, THERE HAS PROBABLY NEVER BEEN A MORE DIVERSE ARRAY OF NEWSPAPERS, PUBLICATIONS, RADIO AND TELEVISION STATIONS FROM WHICH TO CHOOSE. SATELLITE TELEVISION NOW BRINGS NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD INTO OUR LIVING ROOMS – 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK, ALL YEAR AROUND. INTERNATIONAL NEWSPAPERS THAT PROVIDE A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE ARE FREELY AVAILABLE IN THE COUNTRY. AND IF ONE IS LOOKING FOR SPECIALIST, NICHE INFORMATION – LIKE I SAID EARLIER, THERE IS ALWAYS THE INTERNET.

14. THE NEWS CYCLE IN THE CURRENT AGE IS INSTANTANEOUS AND CONTINUOUS. A TRIUMPH OR A TRAGEDY IS TRANSMITTED IN REAL TIME TO A WORLD WIDE AUDIENCE. THIS ATMOSPHERE BREEDS COMPETITION AND UNDERSTANDABLY, MEDIA ORGANISATIONS WILL CONSTANTLY SEEK A SCOOP OR AN EDGE THAT WILL ENABLE THE HUNGRY PUBLIC TO DISTINGUISH IT FROM ITS RIVALS. AFTER ALL, MANY OF THESE ORGANISATIONS ARE BUSINESSES AND THE UNDERLYING MOTIVATION FOR BUSINESSES IS TO GENERATE PROFITS.

15. AS A POLICY MAKER, I WOULD PROVIDE A CAVEAT TO THIS RELENTLESS RACE TO SELL MORE COPIES AND ATTRACT MORE VIEWERS AND LISTENERS. I HOPE THAT THE MEDIA SERIOUSLY TAKES INTO ACCOUNT ITS RESPONSIBILITY TO PROVIDE NEWS FAIRLY AND ACCURATELY. RECENT EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD HAVE SHOWN THAT JOURNALISM THAT IS BASED ON FALSEHOODS OR UNRELIABLE SOURCES HAS A SERIOUS AND FAR REACHING CONSEQUENCES. WARS HAVE BEEN STARTED BASED ON FAULTY INFORMATION THAT THE MEDIA HAS SPREAD, UNWITTINGLY OR OTHERWISE.

16. ULTIMATELY, THE CREDIBILITY OF THE MEDIA ITSELF WILL BE JEOPARDISED AND IF PEOPLE DO NOT TRUST THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA, THEY WILL TURN TO ALTERNATIVE OUTLETS TO GET THE NEWS . THIS MAY NOT BE A DESIRABLE THING, GIVEN THAT MANY OF THESE ALTERNATIVE SOURCES DO NOT BOTHER TO UPHOLD THE HIGH STANDARDS THAT REPUTABLE ORGANISATIONS TRY TO MAINTAIN. IT IS INDEED A WORRYING THOUGHT IF THE GENERAL PUBLIC RELIES ON SOURCES THAT ARE MORE INTERESTED IN SPREADING RUMOUR AND INNUENDO RATHER THAN ACTING AS PROPER CONVEYORS OF INFORMATION.

17. MALAYSIA IS ESPECIALLY SENSITIVE TO THIS. WE ARE A DEVELOPING COUNTRY AND WE WANT THE MEDIA TO BE FREE TO PLAY AN IMPORTANT AND CONSTRUCTIVE ROLE IN NATION BUILDING. WE ARE ALSO A MULTI-RACIAL NATION, THAT PRIZES PEACE AND STABILITY ABOVE ALL ELSE. IT IS THIS PEACE AND STABILITY THAT HAS BEEN THE BEDROCK OF THE MALAYSIAN SUCCESS STORY AND ALLOWED US TO DEVELOP AS QUICKLY AS WE HAVE DONE. WE HAVE ACHIEVED THIS BALANCE BY OBSERVING EACH OTHERS’ SENSITIVITIES AND ACTING WITH RESTRAINT AND MODERATION. WE HAVE HAD BRIEF GLIMPSES OF THE RUIN AND ANARCHY THAT CAN BEFALL OUR COUNTRY SHOULD THIS DELICATE BALANCE BE DESTROYED AND I BELIEVE THAT MOST MALAYSIANS WOULD PREFER TO PRESERVE AN ENVIRONMENT THAT ENCOURAGES GROWTH AND PROSPERITY.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

18. I UNDERSTAND THAT THERE WILL BE A SERIES OF PANEL PRESENTATIONS AND DIALOGUE SESSIONS DURING THE CONFERENCE TOUCHING UPON THE ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE GOVERNMENT AND THE MEDIA, AND THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS TO SOCIETY. I AM CONFIDENT THAT THE ENSUING DELIBERATIONS WILL ENRICH US ALL AND PROVIDE A VALUABLE PLATFORM TO PURSUE OUR CONCERNS AND INTERESTS IN SUBSEQUENT FORA.

19. LASTLY, MY GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO FOSTERING POSITIVE RELATIONSHIP AND UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND THE MEDIA. IT IS WITH THIS SENSE OF HOPE AND ENCOURAGEMENT THAT I AM PROUD TO DECLARE OFFICIALLY OPEN THE MASS MEDIA CONFERENCE 2005.

THANK YOU