29/07/2023 02:23 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 (Bernama) -- The government welcomes broadcasting media platforms to organise debate programmes for candidates contesting in the six state elections, said Minister of Communications and Digital Fahmi Fadzil.

He said such a programme, to be publicly broadcast on any official media platform and mainstream channels, is highly encouraged in line with the practice of democracy in the country.

“We welcome all media to be involved in providing platforms for discussions or even debates so that campaigns for the candidates will not be just about hurling accusations and masking each other,” 

“For me, as a country that practices democracy, we must engage in mature politics, and that includes the practice of debates,” he told reporters when met at the nomination centre at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sungai Pusu near here today.

Fahmi said he also believed that there are many open media platforms available for broadcasting a debate among the candidates, but it is up to the candidates to decide whether they are willing to participate in such a programme or not.

The Election Commission (EC) has set the state elections in Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu to be held simultaneously with the Kuala Terengganu by-election on Aug 12, with nomination set on July 29 and early voting on Aug 8.

Fahmi also anticipated that social media will be livelier with the debates considering that applications like TikTok have a large number of active users.

“For example, we see political activists Papagomo and Wan Mahussin engaging in debates on TikTok and many people watched them. So, I’m sure social media platforms will become even more lively,” he said.

On monitoring by the authorities, he said the relevant agencies such as the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, Royal Malaysia Police and the EC, will intensify their monitoring activities.

“A few days ago, I had a discussion with the Inspector-General of Police to see what needs to be done to strengthen this monitoring team, especially concerning issues related to religion, royalty, and race (3R). Several matters have been agreed upon and will be implemented promptly.

“We also get the cooperation from various social media platforms, including TikTok, which is ready to assist in the monitoring to ensure that the laws in the country are respected throughout the campaigning period,” he said.

Fahmi also urged the public to give their cooperation and report any non-compliance with the law or any disturbing behaviour by candidates contesting in the six state polls.

When asked about actions that will be taken if the candidate’s social media campaigns incite anger or raise sensitive issues, Fahmi said that any accounts violating the community guidelines of the social media platforms will be suspended or deactivated.

“If many complaints are received, then the social media platform itself will suspend or temporarily deactivate the accounts,” he said, adding that the government is not involved in any account suspensions.


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