World Press Freedom Day

Today is World Press Freedom Day. And recent events in the country make it imperative for us to ponder over the current status and future of Malaysia’s media freedom on this significant day.

Let’s have a glimpse of some of these events:

1. Malaysiakini reported that State-owned RTM had blacked out news on the apparent boycott by 10 Terengganu state representatives of the state assembly sitting on 14 April 2009.

2. According to a Malaysiakini report, four private television stations under the Media Prima group had been ordered not to name political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda when reporting the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case.

3. Information, Communication and Culture Minister Rais Yatim announced recently that he’d be “meeting the management of private TV and radio stations soon to bring about changes as they had failed to deliver the government’s aspirations resulting in the BN’s poor performance at the general election last year”.

4. In an attempt to ‘engage the New Media’, Information, Communication and Culture Minister Rais Yatim reportedly dined with some 50 Malay bloggers who were deemed ‘BN-friendly’. Other types of bloggers and news portals such as Malaysiakini were not invited.

5. Perak State Secretariat reportedly made a decision “to limit the number of press personnel covering the assembly”; only representatives from ‘main media’ are allowed entry. All news portals are barred from covering the event.

6. And if there’s truth in the recent Malaysian Insider‘s reportage, the status of media freedom in Malaysia looks bleak indeed: 


Headlines are being scrutinised. Captions are being commented on. The space for alternative views is shrinking.

Instructions are flowing from Putrajaya, not necessarily from the Prime Minister but from individuals who claim they are empowered to speak on his behalf.

The nett result: the mood in newsrooms across the country has become more cautious and editors more wary of pushing the envelope since Datuk Seri Najib Razak became the chief executive of Malaysia.

And all this happened despite Prime Minister Najib Razak’s professed commitment to ‘vibrant, free and informed media’ soon after he took office from Abdullah Badawi.


1 Response to “World Press Freedom Day”

  1. 1 World Press Freedom Day Trackback on 3 May 2009 at 9:26 am

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