KUALA LUMPUR: Najib Razak said that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government is open to criticisms, but the criticisms must not lead to the spread of fake news or false information about the government.

The prime minister said the government’s openness to criticisms was a vital factor in fostering and developing a matured democracy.

“We want to develop a matured democracy. We can criticise the government, but do not spread fake news (about the government),” he said.

Citing the upcoming 14th general election (GE14), Najib said all contests must be done in a matured democracy manner.

“Compete like a man. Don’t compete below the belt,” he said when launching the inaugural National Journalists’ Day (Hawana) 2017/2018 here.

Photo: beritadaily.com

Najib said in the last general election, BN fell victim to fake news about the presence of 40,000 phantom voters from Bangladesh and the black out incident during the counting of the ballots.

He said if the news were true, it would need a number of  747 jumbo aircraft to bring the Bangladeshis to Malaysia.

Unfortunately, without any solid evidence, many chose to believe the news, including those who called themselves the urban intellectuals, he chided.

Najib, who is also BN chairman, also anticipated that the spread of fake news would somehow recur in the GE14.

“Hopefully it will not recur in GE14, but I’m not all that optimistic. There will be stories.

“We are entering the silly season in a couple of days time . During this season, silly and irrational news stories will come out. These news stories do not make sense, but when spread, people tend to believe,” he said.

The prime minister also expressed hope that the media practitioners in the country would play their roles to find and disseminate the truth and nothing but the truth.–BERNAMA