Malaysia down in press freedom index

October 20, 2007

Press Release – Malaysia
19 October 2007
Source: Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)

The following is a 17 October 2007 press release from CIJ, a SEAPA
partner based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Malaysia down in press freedom index

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which ranks the country at 124, a
drop of 32 places from year 2006, when it occupied the 92nd spot.
It is worrying to note that the decline was preceeded by an
improvement  in the 2006 index, in which Malaysia climbed 21
notches from 2005.

However, CIJ agrees with the RSF’s observation in its annual report
about Malaysia, and our monitoring in the area reveal a consistent
trend in the following areas:

– the harassment of bloggers through police detention, questioning,
defamation suits, as well as warnings from the country’s top
– constant interference by the Executive in editorial decisions, now
in the form of official letters to editors from the Ministry of
Internal Security and other verbal “advice”; and
– the limiting, through government directives to the media and the
public, of certain topics deemed sensitive to the administration,
such as race and religion, corruption in the higher echelons, and
the secular/Islamic state debate, from public discussions.

The Index by RSF affirms our position that the administration of
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi still has a long way to go to realising its
pledge for more openness and transparency. We recommend the
following actions be taken immediately to arrest the declining
levels of press freedom in the country:

– set up a parliamentary select committee on media freedom with a
view, among others, toward repealing the Printing Presses and the
Publications Act 1984;
– stop Executive interference in editorial decisions; and
– stop using against bloggers national security laws, such as the
Sedition Act, Internal Security Act and Official Secrets Act, which
are widely criticised for being broadly worded.

Gayathry Venkiteswaran
CIJ Executive Director
For more inquiries, please call +603-4023 0772 or +6016-312 3478.

Southeast Asian Press Alliance.
538/1 Samsen Rd., Dusit, Bangkok 10300.
Tel: 66-2-2435579, 66-2-2435373, Fax: 66-2-2448749


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