KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has reiterated that the government is firm in its stance to guarantee media freedom in the country, but that freedom cannot be used to undermine the country’s unity and harmony, including by stirring up 3R issues (Race, Religion and Royalty).

He said the government always supported and defended the rights and freedom of the media in providing reprimands and criticisms, adding that this has been the case since before the country’s independence.

“My stance and that of my colleagues in the Cabinet is that no actions are taken or controls imposed on the freedom of journalists and the media to express opinions, feedback and criticism.

“I give an assurance that this spirit (of media freedom) remains, although this leads to some anxiety because of our (the government’s) firmness in tackling issues related to security, chauvinistic beliefs (extreme patriotism) and racism, or religious fanatic movements.

“... not just touching on issues of race and royalty but using them to cause division and chaos (in the country),” he said in his keynote address at the MPI-Petronas Malaysian Journalism Awards 2023 ceremony here today.

The Malaysian Press Institute (MPI)-Petronas Malaysian Journalism Awards 2023 is an annual event to recognise outstanding journalistic works throughout the year.

The Prime Minister said Malaysia is capable of becoming a great nation if local journalists can focus on reporting with the aim of ensuring peace and highlighting the country’s progress.

“The value of a successful journalist is one who works with feeling, confidence and passion for the profession.

“I believe Malaysia can become a great and strong nation if we focus on our goals for peace, economy, culture, religion and digital (advancement), but don’t be dragged into issues that divide us, show ignorance or arrogance to the point of eroding humanity,” he said.

Anwar also urged the people to improve their command of English without marginalising efforts to make Bahasa Malaysia the lingua franca.

He said that Bahasa Malaysia, as the official language in the Federal Constitution, continues to be upheld and implemented, but the importance of mastering English cannot be neglected.

“I have instructed the Education Minister (Fadhlina Sidek) and the Ministry of Higher Education to uphold the policy on Bahasa Malaysia but, at the same time, to enhance the ability to improve the mastery of English,” he said.