MANADO (Indonesia), Feb 8- Media practitioners, especially journalists, need to be thinkers and critics who always place importance on harmonious relations between countries in their writings, said Malaysia’s
Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim. He said in the context of Malaysia-Indonesia relations, journalists were an important component in imbuing thinking of whether to report the truth or not.
In his keynote address at a grand dinner to mark the Indonesian Press Day and 67th anniversary of the Indonesian Journalists Association here, he said although the media or journalists were free to write, report and criticise on
whatever, they must uphold the regional Malay spirit, harmony and mutual respect that had existed for such a long time.
“We come from the same stock and if we, as writers, cannot convey our similarities to the masses, these similarities do not guarantee us anything.
“We should therefore think of what would happen to the regional Malay community if we as writers don’t play our role from the perspective of promoting the meaning of humanity and Malay brotherhood,” he said.
Also present were his wife Datin Seri Masnah Rais, North Sulawesi governor SH Sarundajang and Malaysia’s Informaton director-general Datuk Ibrahim Abdul Rahman. Rais, the first minister outside Indonesia to be given the honour of delivering the keynote address at such a function which was attended by over 1,000 Indonesian journalists, noted that he came to Manado with the aim of strengthening Malaysia-Indonesia ties.
Recognising the role of the media and journalists as writers, messengers and critics, he said that role could have a meaningful impact on society. He said as writers, especially in Indonesia where they were free to report on anything, their reporting must still be balanced. As such, he said, good things like the Indonesian workers in Malaysia remitting home about RM6 billion a year and that more than 90 per cent of traders in Kuala Lumpur’s Chow Kit area were Indonesians, should be given due news coverage.
“As writers we must always infuse a sense of responsibility in all our articles in order to prevent others from getting angry with what we write,” he said. Rais also suggested that the television programmes on TVRI and RTM which had such a positive impact on the two countries’ ties be revived with new content.
When met by the media after the event, Rais said he was touched by being honoured to deliver the keynote address and to convey the message of enhancing the already close Malaysia-Indonesia relations.
“It was a result of the roles played by Ikatan Setiakawan Malaysia-Indonesia and Yayasan Ikatan Rakyat Malaysia-Indonesia. This noble initiative should be continued in the interest of the region’s Malay community,” he said.