Malaysia press freedom index status quo as much needed reforms not in place yet
The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) calls for more political
will from the government to improve the state of press freedom in the
country and and the right of Malaysians to access to information.
Malaysia's standing in the latest Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press
Freedom Index, at 131, compared to 132 last year, is still low and
indicative of the lack of progress in translating rhetoric to concrete
CIJ concurs with RSF's observation that the repressive licensing regime
and other laws effectively prevent the coverage of public interests
issues. We also note with concern that important issues such as
corruption and good governance are deliberately given a racial or
religious spin as to make discussions illegal and dangerous. The action
taken against Malaysiakini for example for reporting the cowhead
protest and the Home Minister's statement defending the protesters,
reminds Malaysians that their government is still resistant to the
practice of press freedom . While the Minister, Hishamuddin Hussien
announced in June that various restrictive laws will be reviewed, CIJ
notes disappointingly that no further plan has been unveiled so far.
The lack of actual action renders hollow the Prime Minister's
pronouncement of allowing greater openness as a means to achieve
greater national unity, or the 1Malaysia plan as he dubs it. The RSF
index confirms the maintenance of status quo and the authority's dismal
record in protecting Malaysians their right to press freedom and
CIJ urges, as the first concrete step, to set up a multi-party
parliamentary select committee on media law reform to collect public
feedback and consultation, with the view of repealing restrictive laws
and regulations that impact on freedom of information.
The Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ) is a non-profit
organisation that aspires for a society that is democratic, just and
free where all people will enjoy free media and the freedom to express,
seek, and impart information.
For more information, please contact Wai Fong at 03 40230772