IPOH, May 29 – The National Journalists’ Day (HAWANA) 2023 celebration commenced with an opening ceremony attended by media practitioners from across the country. Minister of Communications and Digital, YB Fahmi Fadzil, expressed his gratitude for the gathering, emphasizing the significance of the event in recognizing the invaluable contributions of media professionals. He also conveyed his appreciation to the Honorable Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, for taking the time to inaugurate the HAWANA 2023 celebration, despite his busy schedule.

As the organizer, the Ministry of Communications and Digital, together with the implementing agency, the National News Organization of Malaysia (BERNAMA), expressed their thanks to the Menteri Besar of Perak, YAB Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad, for hosting the prestigious HAWANA celebration. HAWANA 2023, the third edition of this event, serves as a platform to honor the role of journalism in Malaysia. Minister Fahmi highlighted the historical significance of May 29, the day chosen for HAWANA, as it marks the first publication of the Utusan Melayu newspaper in 1939.

The annual celebration serves to acknowledge the dedication and professionalism of media practitioners. Under the theme “Free Media, Pillar of Democracy,” this year’s HAWANA celebration aims to raise awareness about the importance of media freedom. Minister Fahmi emphasized the need for a transparent and authentic news reporting process without external pressures. He also highlighted the significance of protecting journalists from cyber harassment and threats, such as cyberbullying.

The Minister proudly acknowledged Malaysia’s improved ranking in the World Press Freedom Index 2023, published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Malaysia’s position climbed to 73rd place, a remarkable jump of 40 positions compared to the previous year. Minister Fahmi considered this achievement as evidence of the government’s commitment to media freedom and its dedication to supporting media practitioners in the country. To further safeguard the welfare of media personnel, Minister Fahmi announced the launch of a social responsibility program called Tabung Kasih@HAWANA.

This program, initiated by the Ministry of Communications and Digital through BERNAMA, aims to support former media practitioners and veteran journalists who face challenges in their daily lives. The program will provide assistance to those in need. In his address, Minister Fahmi also highlighted the role of the media in combating fake news. He acknowledged the high level of public trust in mainstream media and urged media outlets to continue disseminating accurate information while protecting the public from the spread of false news.

The Minister encouraged the public to utilize fact-checking platforms such as SEBENARNYA.MY by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (SKMM) and the MyCheck.My platform by BERNAMA to verify information and combat misinformation effectively. Additionally, Minister Fahmi raised concerns about the underrepresentation of women in senior editorial positions within the global news media industry. He emphasized the need to address this issue in Malaysia and encouraged HAWANA 2023 to discuss the lack of news reports related to women’s rights and gender equality.

Concluding his speech, Minister Fahmi expressed his hope that HAWANA would serve as a platform for media practitioners to strengthen the role and contribution of the media industry. He emphasized the importance of media professionals in bridging the gap between the government and the people. The HAWANA celebration, organized by BERNAMA, will continue with various programs, including a Media Forum, Mini Carnival, Treasure Hunt, and Bowling Competition. Minister Fahmi extended his congratulations to BERNAMA for successfully organizing HAWANA 2023 and wished all media practitioners a Happy Journalists’ Day.

Pocket News