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Eyes on Fahmi and the communication ministers before – MalaysiaNow

While some events have been hailed as positive developments, the PKR information chief has also been urged to focus more on his responsibilities as a minister.
As PKR information chief Fahmi Fadzil approaches the end of his first full week as a minister in Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s Cabinet, his focus on social media content and media freedom have prompted comparisons with his predecessors who held his portfolio before him. 
Fahmi, a staunch supporter of Anwar, clocked in as digital communications minister on Dec 5, two days after being sworn into office at Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur.  
Seen as Anwar’s “propaganda chief” from the PKR president’s first day in Putrajaya on Nov 24, Fahmi has also been vocal in defending his party chief from his detractors. 
DAP leader Gobind Singh Deo, who held the portfolio after Pakatan Harapan (PH) first won control of Putrajaya in 2018, had made media freedom – an item of importance in PH’s election manifesto – his main agenda. 
The issue was given priority at the time due to the nature of the mainstream media, which was often described as biased towards Barisan Nasional (BN), the ruling coalition for over 60 years before its downfall in 2018. 
Among the reforms brought by Gobind was the transition of analog television broadcasts to fully digital broadcasts. He also sought to introduce 5G technology in the country. 
These efforts were continued by the next minister, Saifuddin Abdullah, who took over in March 2020 as part of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration after the collapse of the PH government.
Saifuddin had made it his priority to combat the spread of fake news. 
His time in the ministry also witnessed the establishment of Digital Nasional Bhd as a result of discussions with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and the finance ministry, as a special purpose vehicle to realise the potential of 5G. 
When Annuar Musa took over in August 2021, he set the goal of ensuring better internet access and continuing the implementation of the National Digital Interconnection or Jendela.
He also oversaw the implementation of the PerantiSiswa Keluarga Malaysia initiative through which students from the low-income group were given free tablets to facilitate their learning. 
With the arrival of a new government in Putrajaya, the spotlight is now on Fahmi who has said that his focus will be media freedom and issues involving “extreme content” on social media. 
Less than a week after he began his duties as digital communications minister, he said 2,113 videos described as “provocative” and “extremist” had been deleted throughout the general election period up until Nov 26. 
While this was hailed as a positive development, there were also those who urged him to focus more on his main responsibilities as a minister. 
Jeniri Amir, a senior fellow at the National Professors Council, said this was due in part to a lack of significant impact felt by the people so far. 
Speaking to MalaysiaNow, he said other matters should be prioritised, such as the development of a 5G network and internet access throughout the country. 
“Blocking content on social media is not the job of a minister,” he said. 
“He should explain the initiatives and policies that the government will implement so that the people know what is going on.” 
Jeniri also voiced reservations about Fahmi’s call for the authorities to investigate Kedah PN chairman Muhammad Sansusi Md Nor over a speech uploaded on TikTok, saying it did not reflect the image of a minister. 
He said such calls made it appear as though Fahmi wished to control media freedom. 
“He should leave it to the police to take the appropriate action in line with the existing laws,” he said. 
“He is not a PH minister or a PKR minister. He is the digital communications minister.” 
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