SHAH ALAM - The quest for accuracy and truth should be placed before the need for speed when it comes to reporting news, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
"We must seek the truth. That's all I ask. Be fair and seek the truth," he said during his speech at a buka puasa event with the media at Kompleks Karangkraf here on Thursday.
He acknowledged that in any democracy, there would definitely be differences in opinion.
"Differences in opinion would not be a problem if they were constructive, but it is a serious problem when the opinions are baseless," he added.
Najib said this was the challenge in the current environment, with each media practitioner clambering to be first to deliver news, resulting in a compromise in accuracy.
He noted that such inaccurate news reporting shaped public perception, which was hard to dispel once it went viral.
He cited example where allegedly 40,000 Bangladeshis voted during the 13th General Elections, which damaged Barisan Nasional at the polls.
"Imagine, one jumbo jet can ferry 400 passengers so you need 1,000 planes to ferry the 40,000 Bangladeshi here.
"However, the news had already gone viral and the damage done," he said.
He also said news of the sale of land by 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to Lembaga Tabung Haji as a Government bailout had negatively affected Barisan a day before the Permatang Pauh by-election.
Weekly business magazine The Edge had received a show-cause letter from the Home Ministry Wednesday over its reports on 1MDB.
They were given seven days to respond to allegations they had published articles on 1MDB that created confusion and doubts about the Government and its financial institutions, as well as relying on an Internet portal for their articles.
The publisher and CEO of The Edge Media Group Ho Kay Tat said they believed their articles to be truthful and to date, no one mentioned in the articles had taken legal action against them.
"As we have stated previously, we stand by the articles we have published and we intend to show it," said Ho.