Ladies and Gentlemen
1. I am delighted to have been invited to be the Patron of the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia, and it is my pleasure to be here this evening.
2. Since its early development in the late 19th century, the Public Relations function has evolved in the roles that it plays in society. Today, Public Relations play a strategic role in ensuring the success of entities – whether individuals, corporations, governments or even countries. Public Relations practitioners act for the good of the relationship between that entity and its relevant publics, recognising that the relationship sustains the entity and determines its success.
3. Public Relations practitioners today operate in an environment where nothing is static. With rapid advancements in communications technology, new mediums emerge for the exchange of information. As the world continues to shrink, it allows these exchanges to involve increasingly larger audiences and brings different interests into greater contact.
4. With such possibility comes greater responsibility.
5. In essence, Public Relations practitioners are managers of relationships. They act for the good of the relationship that sustains the organisation they represent. It is true that Public Relations utilise communications strategies to appeal to the attention and emotion of targeted audiences. This calls for painting a picture, portraying an image and advocating a viewpoint. But while playing the role of advocate, it is imperative that the message delivered remains honest and objective. Public Relations practitioners also serve their organisation as counsellors on ethics and social responsibility; and social responsibility calls for unpopular truths to also be communicated – whether from the organisation to the public or vice-versa.
6. In the long run, a communication system that is able to sustain good relationships is one that is based on truth and integrity. I am happy that the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia places great emphasis on setting standards for professional performance and establishing codes of ethics. These codes of ethics will ensure communication that is credible, honest, accurate and in the public interest.
Ladies and Gentlemen
7. In the past few decades, the world has witnessed nations being divided as a result of racial and religious conflicts. Hindu – Islam conflict caused India to lose territory and population leading to the formation of Pakistan. Subsequently, ethnic conflict saw Pakistan lose its eastern region marking the birth of Bangladesh. The Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia are other prominent examples. Malaysia is blessed. Though small, it has been acknowledged as one of the most united and developed of developing nations. Among our unique characteristics is the multi- religious, multiethnic, multicultural society living and working together as one united nation.
8. Not only are our peoples diverse, there is also a wide geographical divide between east and west Malaysia. The South China Sea which separates us is larger than the country’s entire land area. Yet, over the years, communication has provided a bridge – a bridge whose foundation is stronger and whose role is greater than even the Penang Bridge – in bringing unity between people who are geographically apart, physically separated yet bound by a spirit of oneness. Communication has fused together the myriad of major religious and ethnic groups and many smaller ethnic communities to be one united Malaysian nation with a sense of shared destiny. Effective communication allows people of different backgrounds to relate to one another, and to live peacefully in harmony under one flag and one king with a strong sense of patriotism.
9. Public Relations play a very important role in nurturing the development of values such as mutual respect and a high sense of tolerance. The Institute of Public Relations Malaysia has a part to play in promoting ethical Public Relations to support the favourable image enjoyed by Malaysia as a country that keeps its multi-religious, multiethnic society living in harmony in an environment of political stability and economic prosperity.
Ladies and Gentlemen
10. The Institute of Public Relations Malaysia holds a very strategic position as a body that governs the Public Relations profession. It is refreshing to know that the institute is continuously working towards raising benchmarks and achieving best communication practices. I am pleased to learn that the Institute has been working with the Ministry of Information, and is now ready to submit a proposal on ‘Accreditation’ for Public Relations practitioners. I congratulate the president and her committee on this effort, and I recognise that the implementation of Accreditation is a means to strengthen the value of the profession.
11. The Institute of Public Relations Malaysia, with the vision to unify, strengthen and advance the profession of Public Relations, has established itself as an organization that builds value for and understanding of the Public Relations function.
I wish you every success in your coming journey.