The Parti Warisan Sabah state government says it will not suppress mainstream journalists from reporting news in a transparent manner.
Sabah Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal said journalists should not be confined to producing news reports that are in line with the desires of the government of the day.
“To me, it is important that the media plays a crucial role in providing balanced views on government policies, development needs of the people, and their concerns.
“This feedback, constructive criticism, analytical articles reflecting the aspirations of Sabah and its people will be much appreciated by my government,” he said at the 2018 Kinabalu Shell Press Award in Kota Kinabalu last night.
However, Shafie reminded media practitioners to be responsible in producing news articles, and not spin news that would create a situation where readers were deprived of accurate facts.
“When the people at large no longer believe the mainstream media, they will stop buying newspapers.
“In the end, it is you (journalists) who will be the losers. You should stand up to your bosses if your articles are edited out of context,” he said.
Shafie said he was ready to consider discussing the possibility of setting up a Sabah Media Council, proposed by Sabah Journalists Association president Muguntan Vanar, to ensure the media could continue playing its role fairly in society.
However, the chief minister said the best form of media control was self-regulation.
“As a former deputy information minister, I have dealt with media policies a lot, I know that formation of any council will bring in direct or indirect control.
"Personally, I feel it is best for Sabah journalists to be guided by self-regulation,” he said.
Shafie agreed with Muguntan in his welcoming speech that media issues in Sabah were much different from those in Peninsular Malaysia, and if needed, the state government could consider a media council to oversee issues in the state.
Meanwhile, Shell Malaysia chairperson Iain Lo said this year was the final year the press awards would use Shell’s name as next year onwards, it would be known as Kinabalu Press Awards.
“(But) it does not mean that Shell will stop supporting the press awards. It just means that we will be more inclusive and bring in other companies.
"I hope to strengthen the relevance and importance of these awards beyond the oil and gas industry,” he said.