January 30, 2013
Malaysia records worst-ever ranking on Press Freedom
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 stood at No 141, but then clawed its way up to No 122 in 2011-2012. Despite this, Malaysia is listed with countries that are placed in a difficult situation, media-wise.
Several unfavourable reports on Malaysia noted by RSF include the deferment of a three months’ prison sentence imposed on blogger Amizudin Ahmat (right) pending his appeal for defaming Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim, and the court decision favouring the seizure order on cartoonist Zunar.
The BERSIH 3.0 protests saw at least two journalists injured after they were reportedly assaulted by policemen.
The authors listed Bangladesh, Libya, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei above Malaysia in the current index of 179 countries.
Singapore was ranked lower than Malaysia at No 149, while Burma is fast catching up – it climbed 18 spots to No 151 after the “dramatic changes” of last year.
The report that states Malaysia’s drop to its lowest position was because access to information was becoming more and more limited.
Japan also recorded the sharpest decline in Asia, by 31 notches from 22 recorded in 2011-2012, to 53rd spot this year. This is attributed to the a lack of transparency and almost zero access to information on subjects directly or indirectly related to the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Mali recorded the biggest drop after its internal turmoil following the military coup in Bamako on March 22, and the takeover in the north by armed Islamists and Tuareg separatists that brought censorship and violence upon the media in the north.
The report states that seven journalists and four netizens were killed this year, compared with 90 journalists and 47 netizens during the whole of last year.
At present, 191 journalists, 13 media assistants and 180 netizens are being held in prisons worldwide over issues concerning the media, it adds.