PUTRAJAYA, March 13 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi broke tradition at an event organised by the Home Ministry (KDN) here today when he directed questions at the guests present.
At the Deputy Prime Minister's Luncheon With Editors-in-Chief and Publishing Permit Holders, Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Home Minister, asked about 10 questions which generally touched on issues faced by the media industry.
"Such an event is being held for the first time, usually I will answer the questions raised by the media formally, but today, I wish to ask questions to the media personnel," he said.
"I also wish to inform that the meeting today is not about the General Election, although the time is close to the polling season," he said at the event attended by about 500 senior management and leaders of the media organisations and publishing permit holders.
At the gathering, Ahmad Zahid also sought the opinion of Bernama Chairman Datuk Seri Azman Ujang on the position of Malaysia, which now occupies the 144th position out of 180 nations for the media independence index.
Azman replied that the evaluation of the index had been influenced by several incidents and did not reflect the overall situation of a particular nation.
"In fact, the media independence index was only focused on the print media and not from all types of media including the social media," he said.
Other questions asked by Ahmad Zahid included on the proposal to review the Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984 and the proposal on the formation of the Media Council.
When listening to the issue raised by the Deputy President of the Malaysian Book Publishers Association (MABOPA) Arief Hakim on the threat of the on-line book (eBook) market, Ahmad Zahid said eBook in Malaysia only represented one percent and did not affect the printed book market.
He said that besides Malaysia, the eBook market in India reached five per cent and in the Western countries the ratio was stable at 80:20 (printed book: eBook).
"We feel that eBook is not a major issue to the printed book market."
"In fact, we like the eBook market to grow rapidly in this country in view of the increasing cost of publishing and paper of between 80 per cent up to 100 per cent in the last four years," he added.