KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian media has, by agreement, decided to stay away from contentious issues of racial and religious sensitivities in order not to create unnecessary tension and even hatred among the people, Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin said Tuesday.
The government and community leaders, he said, are mindful of the situation in some neighbouring countries where "a runaway press" has caused numerous problems.
"The highlighting of certain issues and, in the process, blowing them out of proportion has brought dire consequences to those countries," he said in a paper presented at the fifth session of the Asia Media Summit 2006, here. The paper is entitled "Media Impact On Ethnic and Religious Integration".
The minister said the multiracial, multicultural and multireligious people of Malaysia had reached a compromise of sorts, which was that issues which appeared to impinge upon another community would be discussed by leaders without being played up in the media.
He said the media played an important role in toning down issues that may incite certain sections of a community as the people of Malaysia had decided that it was better to have peace with compromise rather than freedom without peace.
"Sensitive issues can best be resolved between parties involved, far from the glare of the media and unnecessary provocation of unrelated third parties.
"The people of Malaysia, right from the leaders down, have chosen the way of give and take, accepting the fact that everyone will benefit if each were to compromise a little for the greater good of the whole country," he added.
Zainuddin commended the Malaysian media for spearheading the ongoing movement towards greater progress and development of the nation.
"Some people say that Malaysia does not have the freedom of the media. Yes, we admit that we do not have absolute freedom of the press ... the kind of free press that has no qualms about publishing articles no matter how offensive they are to the people in the name of freedom of expression. But we know what is best for us and we make no apologies for it," he said.