Malaysia leaps 40 spots in press freedom ranking

The govt is committed to promoting free and factual media, PM Anwar said


Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at a breaking of fast event with media practitioners and local artistes in KL on April 11. Photo: The Star

May 5, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR – The government is committed and determined to revive the principles of civil society through fair and factual media reporting, says the Prime Minister.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said this in a tweet in response to a Reporters Without Borders (RSF) report stating that Malaysia had been ranked 73rd with 62.83 points in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index compared to the 113th spot with 51.55 points last year.

Malaysia is also ranked the highest among Asean countries, ahead of Thailand (106), Indonesia (108), Singapore (129), the Philippines (132), Brunei (142), Cambodia (147), Laos (160), Myanmar (173) and Vietnam (178).

The index, published on the RSF website, compares the level of media freedom in 180 countries and regions in the world.

In his tweet, Anwar also expressed hope that the media would continue to work to uphold the principles of democracy.

In a Facebook post, Deputy Communications and Digital Minister Teo Nie Ching reiterated the government’s commitment.

“It can be seen that there is a better achievement under the current government administration.

“This is Malaysia’s best achievement in the RSF (rankings),” she said, Bernama reported.

Teo also said she attended a meeting on the proposal for setting up the Malaysian Media Council that had been mooted in 2018, adding that this was in the process of having a Bill drafted.

She also conveyed greetings to media practitioners in the country in conjunction with World Media Freedom Day for their contributions to delivering accurate, fast and up-to-date news reports.

In PUTRAJAYA, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil said talks to improve working conditions and solve issues faced by the media would be expedited between the government and journalists.

The current administration, he said, wanted to build on the success of Malaysia attaining its best ever ranking in the index.

“Putrajaya is also looking into new laws and policies to further strengthen media freedom including the setting up of the long-gestating media council,” he said.

However, he said the government had not decided on whether to review the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA) – a key law which journalists and activists say has stifled media freedom in the country.

Last month, journalist groups criticised Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail for saying that laws such as the PPPA and the Sedition Act were still needed to preserve public peace and security.

“The latest ranking is beyond our expectations and is very positive for the country and the government. The ranking is the best in the past five to six years.

“I want to stress the government and Prime Minister’s commitment to protecting press freedom and the working environment for journalists,” said Fahmi

There will also be more talks between the government, media companies, journalist groups and organisations ahead of this year’s National Journalists Day (Hawana) scheduled for May 27-29 in Ipoh, Perak.

Issues that are expected to be discussed include the economics of the new media landscape, cooperation between the government and the media, and journalistic ethics.

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