Chong: Govt will not meddle in freedom of the press

Chong (third left), Yong (second left), Wong (fourth left) and Yii (right) presenting prizes to the respective winners of the singing competition.

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By Malcolm Lau

KUCHING, Dec 18: The federal government believes in freedom of the press and won’t interfere with it.

“I would like to congratulate my media friends as the ranking for our country Malaysia in World Press Index has improved,” Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs, Chong Chieng Jen said during the ministry’s media appreciation night at Sarawak Club here on Tuesday night (Dec 17).

According to Chong, Malaysia ranked 145 out of 180 previously in 2018 but climbed 22 positions to reach 123 this year.

“I think the press is the fourth estate and it has an important role for the country. In this new environment, I believe in press freedom,” he added.

Chong, who is also Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman, stressed that the government would not interfere with the freedom of the press to report.

“In the past, when we were in the opposition, we would never get reported, except for bad news and it is not good.

“I personally experienced it before and that was when I moved an emergency motion in Parliament and that motion could not be debated that time.

“When I got back to the hotel room that evening to watch television, I was disappointed because in the two minutes of (tabling the) motion, my name didn’t get mentioned,” he recalled.

However, Chong said that these incidents are all in the past and have not recurred under this new government.

“Politicians now get coverage, not only in the papers but also on television, and during the assembly recently, there’s live coverage.

“This (direction) is something where the country should move forward in and it is a correct direction. It can only be accomplished through more press freedom, more reporting without the inteferance and intimidation,” he added.

Chong said that the choice of news headlines is crucial as most of the people did not read to the last word.

Meanwhile, members of the media were entertained with activities such as singing performance/competitions and lucky draws.

Also present at the event were Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong, Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii and Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei. — DayakDaily