Home » AMERICAS » Freedom of the press and Independent media in Malaysia
SEA1 104 - Copy

Freedom of the press and Independent media in Malaysia

This year, despite historical elections, Malaysia has plunged 23 ranks in the World Press Freedom Index (by Reporters Without Border), falling to the worst national benchmark  since 2002. Malaysian Media are still facing major government control and self-censorship issues due to legislation and media ownership concentration. These public broadcast and print restrictions have given birth to independent digital media outlets that strive for a greater freedom of the press and freedom of opinion.

A rigid framework

Media ownership concentration is to blame for the curtailed Malaysian mainstream editorial line. In fact, the political parties control the major newspapers in Malaysia. Media Prima, a media corporation linked to Malaysia’s ruling party UMNO, controls English newspapers such as New Straits Times and Malay Mail, as well as a number of Malay papers. The Utusan Melayu Group, also owned by UMNO, publishes three Malay language dailies. The Star, with daily circulation of 302,658 copies, is owned by the Malay Chinese Association. MCA also controls four other significant media press companies – Sin Chew Jit Poh, Nanyang Siang Pau, China Press, and Guang Ming Daily. Meanwhile, Tamil newspapers such as Malaysia Namban, Makkal Osai and Tamil Nesan are all  owned by the MIC.

This collusion between the government and the media is further strengthened by legislation: all citizens’ speech is curtailed by the Sedition Act and the Internal Security Act (ISA, an initially-anticommunist law allowing preventive detention without trial for a range of offenses), and media are subject to additional measures of control. The Printing Presses & Publications Act (PPPA) of 1984 require that all periodicals obtain an annual (and easily revocable) permit, while the Broadcasting Act of 1988 restricts the type of content broadcasted on television.

Further decline in media freedom in 2013 is also linked to the government crackdown on Bersih opposition rally last April: during the manifestations, recording equipment was stolen and reporters suffered mistreatments. Following last spring’s manifestations, the government implemented creative censorship techniques to limit coverage of support for the opposition and reports of alleged corruption within the ruling party. Leading business radio BFM 89.9 was forbidden to broadcast political news on account that the station focuses on finance. As a result, the station published all political content online. The government crackdown on all publically broadcasted or printed content has forced many media outlets to go digital.

One outlet to rule them all

When Malaysians gained access to the Internet in the mid-1990s, the Malaysian government opted for non-interventionist policies, viewing connectivity as a commercial tool, and not yet a vector of political opposition. The regulatory regime mainly consisted of existing laws for sedition, defamation etc. Among the most famous examples, police raided prominent news site Malaysiakini in 2003 after the online publication of a letter declared seditious; computers and servers were confiscated, temporarily shutting down the site. In December 2010 the government announced its intention to publish “cyber sedition guidelines” in order to “counter the rising trend in sedition and libel cases involving online media and social sites.” Soon after, in January 2011, the Home Ministry revealed potential amendments to the Printing Presses and Publications Act that would bring online news Web sites within the act’s licensing regime. Malaysian civil society, bloggers, and journalists resoundingly condemned the move. Public out-cry has repeatedly forced BN coalition to look for different strategies. The same year The Economist was forced to black out parts of an article on the Bersih 2.0 protests for electoral reform but did not alter their online content.

Prime Minister Najib called for a review of censorship laws, to encompass both print and electronic media. However the international attention brought by censorship imposed on the Economist was not lost on PM Najib: “If the international media wants to criticize us, let them be. If it’s defamatory, we can resort to legal means,” said Najib. His government seems to lean towards a punitive approach versus a preventive usage of censorship.

Such instances have not stopped critical websites form proliferating. Malaysiakini, founded in 1999, is still ranked amongst the 15 most popular websites in the country. The Malaysian Insider, initiated as BN response to Malaysiakini, has recently increased coverage of opposition Pakatan Rakyat. Free Malaysia Today, founded in 2009, is a liberal daily that enjoys 300 000 page views per day.  Extensive readership demonstrates that Malaysians are aware of the limitations of traditional media and are ready to support new media ventures.

Fighting back

The Malaysian government has developed strategies for countering this growth of new media. Recent tactics involve the strengthening of e-presence through social media and improvement of traditional media, featuring enough opposition coverage to satisfy the readers. However, these measures seem insufficient faced with the rising politicization of Malaysian internet-literate youth. During the april 2013 elections, Malaysiakini took down its pay-wall, providing free electoral coverage to all users. Information was accessed by over a million voters, despite reported cyber attacks on elections ‘eve. When the need for objective information is strongest, independent media reveal their true nature as a vector of change.

 – Catherine Ador

 

Featured photo: Isabelle Sokolnicka/Political Bouillon. All Rights Reserved.

 

About Guest Writer

Check Also

9037189098_cd5ea2a702_o

Gutting of Ethics Committee: A Great Republican Irony

All eyes have been on Donald Trump and the executive branch as the Presidential inauguration came ...

3 comments

  1. Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan

    55) Classical Malay

    3. Khaggavisàna Sutta. –
    The Badak.

    klasik Melayu

    58. Rakan-rakan yang mulia Bersekutu, yang telah mempelajari Pengajaran, tahan dan boleh mengajar,
    Mengetahui makna menghilangkan keraguan, dan tambang sahaja seperti badak bertanduk tunggal.

  2. Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan

    klasik Melayu

    64. Menarik keluar pakaian orang biasa itu, dipotong dan berpakaian kuning
    Keluar sebagai tempat tinggal, dan tambang sahaja seperti badak bertanduk tunggal.

    Dari Thailand, dengan kasih sayang : 300 kg emas Kelantan kuil

    Patna:
    Komando dua dozen dari Thailand yang menjaga hampir 300 kg
    emas dalam 13 kotak dalam bandar Bodh Gaya Kelantan itu sebagai kerja bermula untuk menampung
    kubah 1,500 tahun kuil lama Mahabodhi di perhiasannya.

    Kerja-kerja
    yang dinanti-nantikan kepada emas plat kubah sedang dijalankan oleh
    satu pasukan pakar-pakar teknikal dari Thailand , kata pegawai.

    Dua hari selepas kg emas 289, disumbangkan oleh penganut Buddha dari Thailand,
    telah dibawa di Bodh Gaya dalam pesawat khas dari Bangkok , teknikal
    pakar-pakar telah akhirnya mula kerja di bawah keselamatan yang ketat di dalam dan sekitar
    kuil , kata N Dorjee , Setiausaha Bodh Gaya kuil pengurusan
    jawatankuasa.

    “Ia
    adalah masa yang gembira bagi kita semua bahawa menara kuil akan
    mendapatkan pandangan berkilauan dengan emas ,” kata Dorjee .

    Arvind Kumar Singh, seorang ahli jawatankuasa itu, berkata kerja-kerja oleh pakar-pakar dari
    Thailand yang videographed kerana ia melibatkan pengendalian emas.

    ” Satu pasukan 40 anggota , termasuk pakar-pakar sedozen dan dua komando sedozen, dari
    Thailand tiba di Bodh Gaya dengan emas dalam 13 kotak untuk melengkapkan
    bekerja dalam 40 hingga 50 hari, “kata Singh.

    Beliau berkata pasukan itu diketuai oleh Thailand bekas Timbalan Perdana Menteri Ketua Pricha .

    “Kira-kira 24 komando Thailand yang menyediakan jaminan kepada kotak emas disimpan dalam premis kuil ,” kata Singh.

    Pentadbiran daerah juga telah dikerahkan keselamatan tambahan untuk melindungi emas.

    Syarikat yang berpangkalan di Thailand Kreing Thavorn Bekas Sdn Bhd sedang menjalankan kerja.

    Dorjee berkata tahun lepas Thailand Raja Bhumibol Atulya mengambil keputusan untuk menutup kubah kuil dengan emas.

    Tetapi ia mengambil masa untuk mendapatkan kelulusan daripada Penyiasatan Arkeologi
    India ( ASI) untuk kerja. Pegawai-pegawai ASI juga akan menyediakan teknikal
    pengawasan untuk kerja-kerja tatah emas.

    A doa khas akan diadakan di bawah pokok Bodhi suci di belakang kuil utama 16 November di mana
    kira-kira 500 penganut dari Thailand, termasuk orang-orang yang mendermakan emas, adalah
    mungkin untuk menyertai, Dorjee katanya.

    Menurut beliau, fasa pertama kerja-kerja yang melibatkan rawatan kimia telah disiapkan pada Ogos
    untuk menyediakan asas bagi penyaduran emas.

    “Sekarang tangga telah dipasang di sekitar kubah kuil bagi membolehkan pakar-pakar untuk mencapai puncak
    struktur untuk tatah dengan lembaran emas nipis, “katanya.

    Kelantan Ketua Menteri juga telah menunjukkan minat dalam kerja.

    Rentetan bom berintensiti rendah meletup di kompleks kuil pada bulan Julai.
    Tetapi tidak ada kecederaan dan tiada kerosakan disebabkan kepada struktur.

    Struktur kaki purba 180 kuil Mahabodhi dianggarkan mempunyai
    telah dibina antara abad ke-5 dan ke-6 Masihi. Ia telah hilang dan
    semula pada abad ke-19 oleh Alexander Cunningham, yang mengasaskan
    ASI itu pada tahun 1861.

    Kuil Mahabodhi adalah haji yang paling suci
    pusat untuk penganut agama Buddha dari seluruh dunia. Ia menandakan tempat di mana
    Tuhan Gautama dipercayai mencapai pencerahan beliau , menjadikan dia ke
    Buddha.

  3. Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan

    70. Akan rajin, bijak, belajar, dan prihatin untuk mencapai kemusnahan keinginan,
    Membangkitkan usaha untuk membawa kepada state1 yang uncompounded, tambang sahaja seperti badak sumbu bertanduk tunggal.

    VVPATs juga tidak bebas daripada kerosakan. Kod sumber program yang digunakan
    dalam VVPATs perlu dibuat awam. Latihan yang perlu perlu disediakan kepada semua pegawai, Media dan semua ejen gerai pihak yang terlibat dalam semua pilihan raya akan datang kira-kira KOD SOURCE. Media mempunyai untuk menyedarkan pengundi dalam hal ini untuk menyelamatkan demokrasi.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *