10:29AM Feb 12, 2014Malaysia has continued its downward slide on the Press Freedom Index 2014, this time doing even worse than Myanmar.
Malaysia’s two-year slide has landed it at a record low position of 147. This is two slots below Myanmar where reforms since 2011 have boosted that country to 145th position.
Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) - or Reporters Without Borders - which compiled the annual index, made no specific mention of the reasons for Malaysia’s drop in ranking.
However, it says the index was compiled based on surveys with NGOs, journalists, jurists and others, as well as the number of violations of press freedom, such as censorship and assaults on journalists.
Regionally, the best performer in Southeast Asia is its newest nation, Timor-Leste, at rank 77, followed by Thailand (130) and Indonesia (132). Vietnam performed worst in the region, ranking 172 out of all 180 countries indexed.
The report also warned that reforms in Myanmar are showing signs of faltering, and it remains to be seen whether it can be a model for other authoritarian regimes in the region.
Meanwhile, it is noted that Finland retained its global top position for the fourth consecutive year, followed by the Netherlands and Norway.
In an immediate reaction, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang labelled the slide in the ranking as “the worst setback to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s ‘best democracy in the world’ claim”.
“Malaysia was in a respectable ranking of 92nd position in 2006, but under Najib’s premiership, Malaysia is now locked into the worst position in the bottom quarter of 180 countries assessed,” he said in a statement.
Malaysia has had a long history of repressing the media.
Last week, for example, the Home Ministry revoked the publishing licence of FZ.com. This came hours after the online portal was granted leave to commence judicial review proceedings against the ministry over its initial decision on the matter.