Malaysia has received a "downward trend" arrow in the latest 2014 World Freedom report titled 'Discarding democracy: A Return to the Iron Fist' published by United States-based NGO Freedom House.
"Malaysia received a downward trend arrow due to the government's use of the Sedition Act to intimidate political opponents, an increase in arrests and harassment of Shiite Muslims and transgender Malaysians, and more extensive use of defamation laws to silence independent or critical voices," the report's summary of Malaysia's freedom rankings in 2015 reads.
Malaysia was labelled as "partly free" in the report, scoring 4 in civil liberties and also political rights, for an overall freedom score of 4.
Countries are given a score of between 1 to 7 in every category, with 1 being for the most free and 7 being for the least free.
Neighbour Indonesia fared better, scoring 4 for civil liberties and 2 for political parties, for an overall freedom score of 3.
Other neighbours such as Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos were all rated as "not free".
2014 saw a widespread use of the Sedition Act by the government, mostly against opposition politicians and activists, which ended with an announcement by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak that the colonial era law would stay and even be enhanced.
Najib had previously in 2012 promised that the Act would be abolished to make way for the National Harmony Act, but this promise was never seen through.