Najib: Renew democracy

By Karen Arukesamy (The Sun)

KUALA LUMPUR (April 6, 2009): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak today reiterated the need to renew democracy in the country to ensure that institutions, parties and public servants are responsive to the needs of all the people; and are working for the public interest and not narrow opportunism or political interests.

“This will be a core principle of my government; governing that reflects the best values, abilities and strengths of our people, our leaders and our nation,” he said at the Malaysian Press Institute-Petronas Journalism Awards night here.

He said a new national discourse must be established on the principles of transparency and accountability, service to all and respect and fairness in the public dialogue with the interest of every Malaysians at heart.

Najib said everyone has their own political philosophy and views and that debate must continue vigorously.

“Dialogue that demonstrates respect for one another even when disagreements are deep must take place in all parts of our country,” he stressed, including in the traditional and the rapidly growing new media.

“For my part, I have taken my message for One Malaysia directly to the people (via my 1Malaysia website),” he said, adding that many have actively participated in expressing concern and views about the country through online dialogue.

“The reason is clear: at a time when too much of the political discourse has descended into rumours and name-calling, people are turning off the traditional media and looking to interact directly with each other and with their leaders. They seek dialogue as a Nation, not just monologues from a handful of political figures,” he said.

Acknowledging the strength of the media, Najib said the power of the media is not only in reporting but also in lending credibility to stories and rumours that percolate up from the grassroots and the internet.

The media best serves the public interest when it goes beyond the superficial; when it asks the tough questions of the rumour-mongers; when it does not lend credence to false innuendo, and instead reports on facts and detail – whether that is helpful to the government or not."

Najib said personal attacks have undermined public confidence in the political process and have done nothing to bring Malaysians closer to achieving the goals for the country.

PM Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abd Razak awarding
the Kajai Award to Berita Harian reporter
Jalal Ali Mohd Abd Rahim for his report "20
Wanita Malaysia dikurung sendiket Dadah di
Sepanyol". Jalal received RM24000 cash, gold
medal and the certificate. Sunpix by

“I’ve endured my fair share of these from some quarters of the media. I will always stand up and be accountable for the decisions I make as your prime minister,” he said, adding that false accusations against national leaders "are deeply damaging to the nation’s political discourse and international reputation”.

So, today, I call on all parties, all political leaders and all people who want to engage in a new national conversation about the future of our nation – including the media – to do so in a way that respects opinions of others; that values discussion and discourse; and that recognises that opponents need not be enemies, that differences of opinion do not come from malicious motives, but from a deep and abiding concern for the future of Malaysia.”

Together, as we focus on the most pressing needs of our country, I hope that such colourful reporting will be consigned to history. It too often presents a world that bears no resemblance to reality and only serves to damage the public discourse we truly need,” he said.

At the function, Najib presented the Kajai Award to Berita Harian reporter Jalal Ali Mohd Abd Rahim for his report on 20 Malalysian women trapped (dikurung) by drug syndicate in Spain.

Jalal, who received RM24,000 in cash, a gold medal and a certificate, was among the 12 award winners at the event.