Press freedom after a year of PH rule

13 May 2019 / 18:16 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: After a year of Pakatan Harapan (PH) rule, the media in Malaysia is going through some positive developments as the government has repealed or set aside several laws that were stifling press freedom in the country.

Malaysia has jumped up 22 notches in the latest World Press Freedom Index and ranked 123 out of 180 countries listed.

Paris-based organisation Reporters without Borders (RSF) that compiled the index, said press freedom received a breath of fresh air in Malaysia after Barisan Nasional (BN) was ousted in May last year.

It said the journalists and media outlets that were previously blacklisted were now able to resume working without fear of harassment.

The controversial fake news law has also been suspended pending abolition. The government has agreed to abolish several legislations which curb media freedom such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act, Sedition Act and amend the Communications and Multimedia Act.

Universiti Putra Malaysia lecturer, Dr Syed Agil Alsagoff, said the government has opened more space in information freedom for media practitioners.

Independent researcher and policy management and planning consultant Dr Faridzwan Abdul Ghafaar agreed that press freedom is much better than under the previous administration.

He said the move to abolish the Anti-Fake News Act in Parliament should be commended.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said the PH government is committed to press freedom but there were limits as defined by the laws.

“We have seen how the abuse of social media can lead to huge consequences around the world. Singapore, the UK and Australia are calling for more regulations and of course emphasising the need for careful considerations on how much freedom we want to give or support when it comes to the media,” he said. — Bernama

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