Malaysia is the biggest losers in the latest Press Freedom Report from RSF (Reporters Without Borders). Malaysia had dropped 18 ranks as compared to the previous year.
The RSF (Reporters Without Borders) provides information on media freedom worldwide, according to their website. Their most notable publishing is the World Press Freedom Index of 180 countries annually.
The World Press Freedom Index 2021 was recently published and Malaysia had ranked 119 out of the 180 countries. They said that ever since the change in government from Pakatan Harapan (PH) to Perikatan Nasional (PN), the situation had reversed the favourable environment for journalists back to harassment, intimidation and censorship.
They commented that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government have plans for reviving the Special Affairs Department, known by the Malay acronym of JASA which it’s only purpose is to pumps out political propaganda.
They even mentioned that the Malaysia has a “draconian legislative arsenal” that works to suppress the freedom of media and it is the 1948 Sedition Act, the 1972 Official Secrets Act and the 1998 Communications and Multimedia Act.
The report stated that these laws enable authorities to have a strict control over publication licences and journalists and if one found guilty under the Sedition Act, they can be sentence up to 20 years in prison.
They pointed out that the restoration of more authoritarian rule by the PN Government has led to prosecutions, police searches, expulsions (of journalists and a whistleblower) and flagrant violations of the confidentiality of journalists’ sources.
As a result, journalist have to protect themselves with self-censorship against the government’s offensive.
It seems that Malaysia have much more to learn from the other countries to better promote press freedom and enacting laws to cater for it.