‘Freedom of Press’ bit of democracy Malaysian style is under attack. International NGO for journalists Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Malaysia’s freedom of press sliding down to a record low.
M’sia records worst-ever ranking on press freedom
• Jan 30, 13 11:15PG
The state of press freedom in Malaysia has hit a historic low, with the country being ranked No. 145 in the latest World Press Freedom Index – the worst since the annual index was begun in 2002.
Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) – or Reporters Without Borders – attributed the poor standing to issues linked to the police crackdown on the Bersih 3.0 protest last April, as well as repeated censorship and the undermining of basic freedoms, in particular the right to information.
In 2010, Malaysia had stood at No. 141, but then clawed its way up to No. 122 in 2011-2012.
The authors listed Bangladesh, Libya, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei above Malaysia in the current index of 179 countries.
Singapore was ranked No. 149, while Burma went up 18 spots to No. 151 after the “dramatic changes” of last year.
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The quick blame on this phenomenon would be against the Federal Government. However, Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s leadership provided a lot of leeway for ‘Freedom of Press’, as long as it does not contravene any of the laws.
He abolished the Printing and Press Act, which amongst other things require newspapers to renew their annual license with Ministry of Home Affairs. And on top of that, more Ministers and Heads of Department are engaging media, even on sensitive matters such as defense and national security. Media are even brought to experience highly sensitive and strategic weapon system such as the RMN submarines.
Prime Minister Najib also plan to abolish Sedition Act.
The fact is that, it is the Oppositions who are practicing restraints against ‘Freedom of Press’. Their leaders like Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and DAP Secretary General restrained accredited journalists from certain media to attend their media conferences, especially when they are unable to provide reasonable answers to questions posed. They are also rude to journalists, especially when they have no reasonable answers to offer.
On many issues even non controversial ones, they issue gag order to their own people from making statements. For people who once criticized the Official Secrets Act (OSA), Lim threatened to use the law against civil servants of the state where he rules supreme.
On top of that, they habitually take journalists and the media they represent to court. Getting a threat to be sued is already a SOP for Opposition leaders.
Their distrust of mainstream media is also apparent. When DAP Secretary General and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was offered to dive with RMN Perdana Class submarine KD Tun Razak 60 nautical miles off the coast of Langkawi during LIMA 2011, he wanted to bring along Penang-based local Chinese media even though he was told that Tv3 and Bernama already had their reporters on board the submarine.
It is simple to conclude that the Opposition played a lot of role in the digress of Freedom of Press Index. And that is before they have been given the mandate.