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Do not condemn the media to avoid blame, Johan Jaaffar tells ministers

Publish date: Thu, 23 Mar 2023, 10:29 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: National Journalism Laureate Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar has strongly criticised government officials who use the media as a scapegoat to avoid taking responsibility for their errors, lapses, and blunders.

Johan made this bold statement while commenting on National Unity Minister Aaron Ago Dagang's recent accusations that the media was "deliberately wanting to fan flames" on sensitive issues, particularly related to race and religion.

In a statement today, Johan said he found it "totally unacceptable" for the minister to make such an accusation and called on him to be more responsible in his remarks.

He stressed that it was crucial for government officials, particularly ministers to acknowledge their own oversights and mistakes, rather than resorting to accusations against the media.

"I am appalled that he issued a stern warning to media practitioners to quit acting like instigators, asserting that 'it's enough.'

"He (Aaron Ago) is certainly barking up the wrong tree. The fact is, Malaysian media has been exercising utmost restraint in handling matters pertaining to race-relations.

"The (media) practitioners understand their role in a muti-racial and multi-ethnic Malaysia.

"While they uphold the freedom of the media and they strongly believe that a free press is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, however, they are responsible enough to avoid creating discord among the races," the statement read.

Johan further noted that recent commotions in Malaysia were caused by irresponsible politicians, not the media.

He said the current spike in racial tensions was the result of politicians "fanning flames for their own insidious purpose."

"I urge ministers to stop blaming the media when things go south or not in their favour.

"Please stop blaming the messenger. Do not condemn the media to avoid blame for their own missteps, oversights, and mistakes," he added.

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