KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians need to have a speedy and reliable access to global information and insight in order to address new global challenges, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.
The deputy prime minister said the people also need to have a good grasp of global issues such as those concerning weapons of mass destruction, human cloning and genetically-modified food, health issues, new epidemics, education, the role of the global media and environmental issues.
"One thing that is clear through all this uncertainty, as Malaysian global citizens, we need to be increasingly globally aware.
"We need direct access to best ideas from around the world so we can apply those ideas at home," he said at the opening of the International Forum on "The Creation of Global Citizen: Media Liberalisation and New Political Realities" here today.
The two-day forum, attended by 63 representatives of 22 political parties from 20 countries, is held in conjunction with the 61st Umno General Assembly.
Describing the media as "an important thoroughfare for ideas and information", Muhyiddin said Malaysia's effort to protect media freedom in the country "has brought real benefits to all of us."
In fact, he said the media had been "integral to our becoming global citizens in the first place."
"However, let me be equally clear that while it is in our best interest to further liberalise the media to increase our global awareness, we must not forget that freedom of the press is not a blank cheque to do whatever we want," he said.
The deputy prime minister said the protection of media freedom only came when those freedom was used in a responsible manner.
"I believe the media in this country largely understands what constitutes a fair, free and responsible press. While we celebrate the advances of technology, we have to be cautious of what it can do as communication tools," he said.
Muhyiddin acknowledged that the media scenario of today had changed, saying, "Thanks to new tools like weblogs, it is now possible to easily publish to the Internet."
"Everyday, people like you and me share stories and opinions with the rest of the world."
He also called for a sense of responsibility in sharing those ideas and aspirations, either small or big.
The forum will feature several speakers including former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. -- BERNAMA
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