31/07/2023 01:24 PM

By Zaphne Philip

KUCHING, July 31 (Bernama) -- Several journalists’ associations in Sarawak have called for a review of outdated laws and the elimination of excessive bureaucracy in getting access to information.

Kuching Division Journalists’ Association president Ronnie Teo Teck Wei said bureaucratic procedures were often used as an excuse to delay or avoid giving the necessary information regarding government policies or programmes, making it hard for media practitioners to report news promptly and accurately.

“For instance, confirming an important matter with a particular party or agency frequently takes a considerable amount of time, and what’s most disappointing is when there is no response at all,” he said.

Sarawak Commonwealth Journalists Association chairman Alice Wee said freedom of the press would encourage journalists to be more committed in their work, particularly in producing investigative reports.

“In the past, access to information was limited, now with the impact of technology, there is a certain degree of pressure for the freedom to information (to be practised) but information must be extracted with caution,” she told Bernama.

Meanwhile, Federation of Sarawak Journalists Association president Andy Jong Wan Joon said although freedom and the right to obtain accurate information were important for a society in a democratic country, laws to curb the spread of false news must still be maintained.

He said laws such as the Emergency Ordinance (Essential Powers) (No 2) 2021 were still needed to combat the dissemination of fake news, which has become more widespread with the advancement of information technology.

“This is to ensure that the people have access to current and accurate information, which will ultimately reduce the spread of false information and news that can tarnish our country’s image,” he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, when launching the “MADANI Economy: Empowering the People” plan recently, said media freedom should be uplifted and empowered in an effort to provide the people with fair and accurate news and information.

He said that efforts should also be made to address all forms of malicious deception and fake news that can sow division and mistrust.