US report: Press in M’sia ‘not free’

By Patrick Lee | May 3, 2012
Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has been found to be one of the worst countries in Asia when it comes to press freedom.

According to the US-based human rights think-tank Freedom House’s “Freedom of the Press 2012” report, Malaysia’s was ranked 31st out of 40 countries in the Asia-Pacific region where media freedom was concerned.

With a score of 63, this put it just above countries like Singapore (32nd), Brunei (35th) and Vietnam (36th), marking it with the “Not Free” status.

Countries with higher scores are less free, and considered authoritarian, while countries with lower scores are seen as more free.

Malaysia was even ranked lower than its troubled neighbours in Asean, such as Indonesia (22nd), the Philippines (21st) and Thailand (28th).

From a worldwide perspective, Malaysia was ranked at 144th out of a list of 196 countries, sharing its position with Cambodia, Jordan, Madagascar and Pakistan.

Freedom House’s ratings come as no surprise, with the government seemingly clamping down on Malaysian media despite promises of liberalisation and reform.

Even though Parliament passed amendments to the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984, media agencies in the country are still at the mercy of the Home Minister, even if they can challenge the government if their printing licences are revoked.

It is expected that the recent assault of journalists during the Bersih 3.0 demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur last Saturday may devalue Malaysia’s worldwide standing further.

According to the survey, the ratings were divided into three categories:

a) Legal: Which looks into government-imposed media regulations and restrictions on media workers, and how free journalist groups are allowed to operate.

b) Political: Political control over the content of news media, such as editorial independence, harrassment, assaults and other threats.

c) Economics: Matters such as transparency and strucutre of media onwership, withholding of advertising and other factors.

The survey added that the ratings not only looked at how individual governments treated news groups, but also how media agencies reacted in “testing boundaries” and “restrictive environments”.

The impact of non-state (or non-government) groups were also a factor in deciding press freedom rankings.

  1. #1 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Thursday, 3 May 2012 - 4:18 pm

    Hey man, but we have angkasawan and ros ros yg lagi cantik. If they took these two factors in account surely our ranking would shoot up to something top 10. Anyway, how dare obama-the pendatang criticise umno the great? Nanti jib hantar PDRM kat sana baru tau.

  2. #2 by cseng on Thursday, 3 May 2012 - 5:16 pm

    Feedback to the US-bsed think tank, add another category as (d);

    d) Human Rights: Violence/brutality against press workers.

    M’sia would at 195/196.

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