Tun Dr Mahathir on “Media and National Development”

The two principles of media and freedom of press:

1. There is nothing absolute in this world. Freedom must always be limited with something and/or the environment that binds it

2. For every tool that we have, there is always more than one ways to use it; be it for good or evil deeds

That is what former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said at the opening of his keynote address this morning, dedicating the Perdana Discourse Series titled “Media and National Development”, at Perdana Leadership Foundation, Precinct 8, Putrajaya.


Over 250 people turned up. His distinguished guests include Tan Sri Sanusi Junid, former MB Kedah and Cabinet Minister, Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh Hamzah, former Cabinet Minister and party President, Tan Sri Michael Chen, former President of Senate and Cabinet Minister, Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad, former Ambassador and Executive Chairman of NSTP, Tan Sri Mazlan Noordin, former Editorial Adviser of NST, Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Arif, former CEO of Proton, Tan Sri Mazlan Ahmad, former Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, Tan Sri Abdul Halil Mutalib, former LADA General Manager and DG of Customs and Tan Sri Dr. Mustapha Babjee, former DG of Vetenary Services.

Some of the All Blogs people were also there like Rocky, Nuraina A Samad, Zorro Unmasked, Zahrin “Sang Kelembai” Yassin and Raja Petra Kamaruddin of Malaysia Today. So did ‘Rantings by MM’ blog operator, Dato’ Paduka Marina Mahathir. The media students from UiTM were also present as the co-organiser is the UiTM think tank for civilisation, InQKA.

Tun Dr. Mahathir also said that when any of the world media talked about the press being controlled, they will never fail to mention Malaysia. Media is very important to disseminate information. Like a knife, it can be used positively and also can be used, negatively.

He said further that information that media brings will help the process of decision making, especially when people are “in the dark” about situation that surrounds them. The people should be wise enough to study and select which information is positive for them and it will be used for progress. However, sometime choose to tell media a completely wrong story. For example, the economy is not doing so well but the media said everything is fantastic.

Information available today can damage the society. For example is pornography. Previous society have no access to free pornographic materials like today, so there were much less sexual related crimes, which also include those against children.

Sex, Violence & Popularity

Tun Dr. Mahathir shared with the audience, when he first started the Multimedia Super Corridor, members of the International Advisory Panel (IAP) warned him against any form of censorship over the internet. He said, it is inline with the principle of ‘the right to know’.

He said reminded that ‘Sex and Violence’ sells and makes money. Those are the themes of so many of Western media which include film, tv and even video games. He said the consumers tolerated the exploitation against women and many actually love it, especially semi or nude shots. Therefore the demand grew.

He said there should be a balance between the desire to make money and contribute something to the process of national development. Its is important that media continue to be economically viable but he reminded that what is popular, does not mean it is good, positive and progressive for the society and process of national development.

“Rarely a newspaper succeeded in being popular and sells (but at the same time), do the right thing for national development”, said the former Prime Minister. For example, if they wrongly interpret certain angles about certain issues, it will create racial disharmony and create discomfort in the society. People always do not act rationally in some sensationalized reportings. Common sense is not actually common. “Sometime, people can be irrational”, he reminded.


On blogging, Tun Dr. Mahathir said the bloggers need to tell the truth. “The new media” will compliment the movement of information as there will be ‘spin doctors’ will ensure print media skewed some angle of certain news, especially that will affect an particular individual or collective individuals.

The intellectual discourse that followed afterwards on the topic “Media and National Development” include the thoughts of Dato’ A Kadir Jasin, former Chief Editor NST and now Malaysian Business editor and blogger, Steven Gan, founder of online newspaper ‘Malaysiakini’, an IT business startegist and renowned ‘Screenshots’ blogger, Jeff Ooi and Dr Kamalan Jeevan from International Medical University.

On the topic of moderation, Dato’ Kadir said practiced no restrains in his blog provided they adhere to simple universally accepted virtues like no profanities and incorrect facts.

Media Conference

At the media conference soon after, Tun Dr. Mahathir explained that he is still not shy to state that the Jews ruled the world by proxy and is in direct control of the western media. This is a fact and he will make no attempt to correct his earlier statements. The example he used was how the President was not supposed to declare a war unless Congress approved it.

On the issue about his earlier accusations that the Prime Minister own a house in Perth, he admitted it was the spur of the moment during the heat of the speech that he said that, based on rumours speculating around.

However, he thanked Raja Petra for correcting him and apologized openly about making the mistake that Khairy Jamaluddin himself made few weeks ago explained that his brother in law, Kamaluddin Abdullah is the one actually owns the property, where else two weeks ago Malaysia Today exposed that the house is registered under Patrick Lim’s wife’s name.

When asked about Proton merger with VW, then and now, Tun Dr. Mahathir explained that when VW went into merger mode with Proton a while ago, Proton was in a better position to bargain because their financial position was very strong and even had a lot of cash. Now the terms are different. His advice was “remove the management!”. He could cynically mean the management of another administration, in line with his speech in Johor Bahru on 10 February.

In this media conference, in response to the question about registering Bloggers, he reminded Bloggers that they should tell the truth and have a role to play to ensure that information is disseminated well to the public. “Stick to the truth. Do not embelish or make something up”, he uttered.

Tun Dr. Mahathir also said that the Sepang F1 racetrack is the greatest free annual advertisement for Malaysia which is worth at least RM one billion. It is sad for him to see Malaysia lost their annual Formula One series in the years to come, something successful since 1999.

On the issue of the Johor Menteri Besar announcing that they are interested to remove the Free Access Zone feature of Iskandar Development Region (IDR) but it was a Federal Government’s call, Tun Dr. Mahathir said the Government could explained the whole thing much earlier and quashed with all the uneasiness caused to the people, especially sensitivities against Singaporeans and other nationals through Singapore, freely enter into Johor, seamlessly without any inspection what so ever.

Published in: on April 18, 2007 at 17:57  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Big Guy, ada gambar tak pasal event today?

  2. A great gathering of great minds ….as usual TV3 spins the stories!!

  3. Big Dog,

    I agree with Dr Mahathir about the need for bloggers to tell the truth. Other than you, I did not show anyone else the draft of my posting on “Blog Ethics Part One”, which I am still working on and hope to publish in the next few days.

    Thou Shalt Not Lie.
    I believe this should be the first basic principle of a blogger. We need to tell the truth. To be credible, we cannot fabricate and write lies. What has happened to some of the mainstream media in this country is they have fallen victims of (their) editors who lied in their columns and writings. You betray the trust of your readers when you resort to lying. I once posted about how journalism is built on trust. Blogging, like journalism, must rest on the same principle.
    We shall not lie.

  4. Big Dog;

    That must have been an interesting gathering. Yes of course blogging must be truthful in its presentaion and sometimes truth hurts. In the absence of a credible media as we’re experiencing now, blogging is the alternative. Sadly of course blogging has its limitations as its reach to the masses is very limited. As suggested by some bloggers and commentators, flyers should be used to distribute worthy articles to the masses.

    At the last US mid-term elections bloggers it seemed played active roles in helping Democrats to win. Can this happen here – not yet I suppose!

  5. darn, missed it!
    so many deadlines to meet.

  6. Tuan Dzulman,

    I agree with you. Bloggers do have a role to play in the local political scenario. However, the accessibility of internet are very much within the urban city/sub-urban limits only. Generally, people in the interiors and kampungs do not have access to internet (unlike in the west).

    Especially the Malays, even if they are IT savvy and have internet access, not many are interested in politics. Amongst the Malays, the highest hit Malay website is http://www.jiwang.org So basically, that tells it all about the near future of internet’s role in the mainstream Malay politics. The highest hit political websites are still Malaysia Today, Malaysiakini and Screenshots, all in the English medium.

    That is a major disadvantage to the Malays in the kampungs, who are the majority voters in the 160 or so Malay majority constituencies all over Malaysia.

    Do the math. Its disheartening. Rallies and ceramahs (with highly sensationalized issues like Anwar accused of sodomy) is still the number one vote mover for the Malays.

  7. Interesting post.

  8. Hi mahathir you are the syar of Asia.
    As a Asian journalist in Nepal, I appreciate your vision.

    Om Prakash Ghimire
    TV JOurnalist and Lecturer

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