20 Oktober 2010

Lowest press freedom ranking in nine years

Malaysia has plunged 10 notches to 141 in the 2010 World Press Freedom Index - the lowest in nine years - putting it firmly in the bottom quarter of 178 countries.

The country failed to capitalise on last year's improvement where it moved up one notch from 132 to 131.
The issues which have perhaps affected Malaysia's poor ranking include the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission's investigation into Malaysiakini's cow-head video, the arrests of bloggers and the ban on a number of books by cartoonist Zunar.

Interestingly, Singapore (136) outranked Malaysia for the first time since Paris-based press watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) began releasing its ranking in 2002.

Among the 10 Asean countries, Malaysia is ranked higher than two countries which are deemed to have freer press - Thailand (153) and Philippines (156).

RSF has attributed this to political violence.

"Thailand - where two journalists were killed and some 15 wounded while covering the army crackdown on the 'red shirts' movement in Bangkok – lost 23 places," said RSF, which issued its ninth annual index today.

“The Philippines lost 34 places following the massacre of over 30 reporters by partisans of one of Mindanao island's governors.”

Repression not diminishing

Meanwhile, Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland share the No 1 spot. The United States remains at No 20.

Sitting at the bottom end of the ranking are North Korea (177) and Eritrea (178).

Apart from North Korea, Asia's three communist regimes - China (171), Vietnam (165) and Laos (168) - are among the 15 lowest-ranked countries.

"Also in South-East Asia, Indonesia (117) cannot seem to pass under the symbolic bar separating the top 100 countries from the rest, despite remarkable media growth.

"Two journalists were killed there and several others received death threats, mainly for their reports on the environment,” said RSF.

"In short, repression has not diminished in Asean countries, despite the recent adoption of a human rights charter." - MKini

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