Free Speech. Information Access. Empowerment.
Malaysians’ Demands on World Press Freedom Day
3 May 2008
Two years ago, in an unprecedented move, 37 civil society organisations and almost 100 individuals signed a statement calling for the abolition of the Printing Presses and Publications Act and to institute other reforms in the legal and political environments to enable the media to operate freely and independently in Malaysia.
The statement was signed in disappointment of the Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s failed promise of fighting corruption and upholding political integrity and accountability when he took office in 2003.
The call for a free press fell unfortunately to deaf ears but it has only grown louder two years later as the Barisan Nasional learned painfully on March 8. To our disappointment, the setback in the 12th general elections has failed to remind PM Abdullah the nation’s thirsting desire for a free press.
He promised reform in the judiciary and reform of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) but unfortunately nothing about reform of the media law. Even more disappoitingly, the Home Ministry has recently rejected the application for the publication permit renewal by an outspoken Tamil daily Makkal Osai before approving its appeal a week later. The Ministry still withholds the renewal of a relatively independent Chinese daily, Oriental Daily.
Is it any surprise that Malaysia ranks 141 amongst 195 countries surveyed in the 2008 Global Press Freedom Rankings released by the Freedom House on April 29? Does the government not feel ashamed that our country is placed at the bottom 30% in the world on press freedom? Continue reading →