There was no change for Malaysia in the 2014 Freedom House press freedom index — we rank 64th in the world, and categorised as Not Free.
Papua New Guinea, which has been waiting to be accepted into Asean since the 1970s, is the only country in the region rated Free.
Of the 10 Asean member countries, only Philippines and Indonesia qualify among those Partly Free. The other eight countries, including Malaysia are rated Not Free, with Laos and Vietnam among those at the bottom of the table.
Malaysia’s position has remained much the same for the past 20 years — but worsened from 1997-2004, the years of the long-running Anwar Ibrahim crisis up to the 12th general election. A slight improvement was recorded the year after the election but it worsened in 2006 before improving slightly subsequently — back to mediocrity.
Freedom House said press freedom globally had fallen to its lowest level in over a decade, driven in part by major regression in the Middle East, including Egypt, Libya, and Jordan; marked setbacks in Turkey, Ukraine, and a number of countries in East Africa; and deterioration in the relatively open media environment of the United States.
Conditions improved in some countries, most notably in sub-Saharan Africa, but all
other regions suffered setbacks.
Only 14 per cent of the world’s population, one in seven people, enjoys “Free” media; the rest have “Not Free” (44%) or “Partly Free” (42%) press.
“We see declines in media freedom on a global level, driven by governments’ efforts to control the message and punish the messenger,” said Karin Karlekar, project director of the report. “In every region of the world last year, we found both governments and private actors attacking reporters, blocking their physical access to newsworthy events, censoring content, and ordering politically motivated firings of journalists.”