Thursday, October 23, 2008

Press Freedom Rating Takes A Further Beating

A Kadir Jasin

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SO what went wrong?

Why did our press freedom ranking nose-dived despite the Government and its propaganda machinery telling us that we are more free today than we were in the previous era?

According to a Malaysiakini report quoting the Paris-based Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF, Reporters Without Borders), Malaysia nose-dived to the bottom quarter of 173 countries ranked.

In the just released 2008 ranking, Malaysia fell eight spots to 132. Last year, it was placed 124th while in 2006, 92nd.

According to the index, Malaysia was fifth among 10 Southeast Asian countries after Timor-Leste (65), Indonesia (111), Thailand (124), Cambodia (126).

We are worse than Cambodia? How can that be -- not with the Government’s declaration of openness, tolerance, “Islam Hadhari” and all?

Well, RSF has this to say: “In the face of mounting criticism, the government of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi reacted with a crackdown.”

It said that the mainstream press made no attempt at balancing remarks by the authorities for their attack on the organisers of two major demonstrations last year namely the election reform movement Bersih and the recently outlawed Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).

But how can RSF expect the mainstream media, which are either government-owned or are owned by political parties affiliated to the government, to say what is contrary to official stand and stance?

My personal feeling is Malaysia’s rating would have been significantly better if the role of the alternative press and the new media like the independent news portals and blogs is given greater importance.

(When I started this blog in 2006, I thought only IT-savvy young people would access it. I was wrong. Many of the visitors and debaters are mainstream people who are of my generation or older.)

The fact that the Government is acting against bloggers, as pointed out by RSF, is a further proof of the growing influence of this new medium.

The RSF noted that attacks against (on) bloggers continued, saying: “Abdullah had called bloggers ‘liars’ while (last) July, (then) law minister, Nazri Abdul Aziz, said the government would not hesitate to resort to the Internal Security Act (ISA) to punish them.”

Mohd Nazri was not bluffing. Last month, the strident webmaster of Malaysia Today, Raja Petra Kamarudin was sent for a two-year detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Malaysia’s deteriorating global ranking is not limited to press freedom only. It happened in other areas as well.

Ironically, they are taking place at the time when the mainstream media is chanting the mantra of openness, transparency, accountability and integrity.

From these falling rankings we can say that we are facing a global identity and confidence crisis.

This is not good as it adds burden to our efforts to overcome the worsening global economic crisis.


Anonymous said...

Sdr. A Kadir Jasin,

Politicians say one thing and do another. And they never seem to "learn"! Typical politicians act typically as such!

Pak Lah is of no different! Rethorical shouts of reform is of no bearing when actions speak otherwise.

They preach about transparency but clouds facts from the people. It is therefore difficult for people to "understand and appreciate" whatever actions taken.

I do not see this situation improving any time soon. How do we improve when the likes of KJ, Hishamuddin, Mukriz and Najib are the forefront runners for higher office?

This situation is akin to drug addicts trying to come clean! How many of these addicts could really come clean when the very environment they are in is too seductive to resist? Statistically, very small!

Power and money, like drugs, are addictive! Once we have them, it is difficult to let go. Once we have them, we only want more irrespective of the distructions that may be inflicted to ourselves, our country or our environment!

Not many human can resist power and money. With money comes power. Likewise with power comes money.

I don't think Pak Lah, KJ, Najib, Hishamuddin and the whole lot of UMNO members could resist the temptations that come with power and money. Neither can (hail the GREAT LEADER!) Anwar Ibrahim. All of them are too intoxicated to even realise the distructions they are inflicting to the country!

I suppose human's learning ability diminished greatly when they are in a intoxicated state! We are no better then zombies. Once seduced by power and money, the soul is effectively "mortgaged" to the devils.

Dari Borneo ke Minang

mad said...

datuk, i agree that this is not good. in a time we really need foreign investor's confidence on our openness and intergrity, this latest report is a blow to the country, although i'm not surprised with the news at all.

also the much hyped effort to improve our judiciary system seems to go down the drain with the appointment of tan sri zaki as the new chief justice of the federal court, known a staunch supporter of a certain main ruling party. enough said.

iming said...

well written, Dato'!!

sawit futures trader said...

Salam Dato',

Bukankah saya katakan dari dahulu, jangan baca satu sumber berita sahaja. Dan saya tambah yang baru, kita kena selalu baca dan mencari maksud "in between the lines".

Itupun jika cukup sumber-sumbernya untuk buat kesimpulan.

Selebih dari itu kita hanya mampu kekal musykil dan mengurut dada.

Rockybru said...

Tok Scribe,

Just a while ago, we could brag that we had the free-est new media this side of the Suez. But Mahathir's promise to the world -- that Malaysia would leave the Internet alone -- has been broken. Now bloggers are suing bloggers, even. I does not help that politicians are blogging, too.

ab said...

Kadang-kadang `berita' yang disiarkan macam ramalan cuaca TV3 vs TV1 vs TV2, berbeza-beza
walaupun sama harinya.

affendi hussain said...

This kind of reputation is doing the nation a grave deal of reciprocating effect in terms of attracting foreign investment in this time of global financial crisis..The integrity & transparency of our MSM materials will be doubt & disputed.

And still the MOF continue to say that Malaysia won't be economically much affected despite this glogal crisis..

.. the only way we won't be economically affected by what is happening around us is to become a close-door country like Myanmar...

Walla wei!, we are below Cambodia a 3rd world country.. its probably a good moronic start for a national kickoff..Pathethic fiasco!

Whatever our 5th PM preached & promised... the end result always landed in the opposite ground.. and the accumulative effect getting worse by days when he still in power...

"Work with me..not for me..BUT don't ever criticize me, dispute me..or dare to challenge me!".. "Saya pantang dicabar!"

After blogger & journalist ISA exercise.. now to add things worst is the phenomenal suing frenzie among bloggers cum politician vs media cum until kingdom come...

.. and these very people still claiming to champion the ordinary Malaysian & good of the nation..a mentally retard of 3rd class mentality drug overdosed hallucinating to be among the 1st class of the world..a great leap backwards..


Vesu said...

gone.gone are the days .editorial quality ; but i see there are some news on opposition side in main stream press...slightly more coverage.. but i think its the ownership.when there is a real issue etc the government controlled press take side-pro government and made to look like a fool. yes they are... time to liberate media control..take media prima berhad- government allow them to park all 4 private tv channels under their holdings and zero competitor';all are so identical and pretty guided freedom

Anonymous said...

we win some, we lose some... as the saying goes. however when it comes to Press freedom in malaysia, we stand to loose every time we try to 'correct' the 'incorrect'. our politicians are getting scared of the truth about their wrongdoings coming to print. our economists, too are not telling the truth about the actual situation of the economy. so much so, the blanketts imposed on mainstream media are turning them into a bunch of 'licenced' liars.

Anonymous said...

Dear fellow debaters and esteemed readers,

Let me make the following points in my capacity as a journalism lecturer and a former journalis of a mainstream media (MSM)organization:-

1. The MSM has always been pro-government;

2. On occasions that they were against the government, they were severely repremanded and even suspended;

3. Party-ownership has been in place since the early 1970's but the MSM was then accepted as a reliable source of information sans the party and government news;

4. Even during the long Dr Mahathir autocratic rule the MSM was free to a certain degree to criticise the government and the ruling parties. Of course understandably some editors like Zainuddin Maidin, Samad Mahadi, Rehman Rashid and Datuk Scribe himself had to pay the price;

5. In their signature columns like Awang Selamat, Bisik-Bisik, Kinta Kinte ,Other Thots and Senyum Kambing they were allowed a varying degree of freedom to criticise the government;

6. Our random studies of MSM in recent years found that editors have been disarmed or cowed to stop their signature columns like Datuk Khalid of Utusan stopping his widely read Awang Selamat Column; and

7. In their places came the Spindoctors who are a cross between pseudo politicians, propaganda operators and corporate figures. It is they whom we believe do the greatest damage to the credibility, readerbility and reputation of the MSM. Through their signed columns, news rewrites and editorials they had managed to discredit their newspapers and along the way discredited their political masters;

8. Our school is in the process of studying this new phenomenum and its effect in causing the MSM to be rejected by a cross section of information seekers and facilitating the mushrooming of the blogs and independent news portals.

The Media Lecturer,
Shah Alam.


This is how Malaysia is stacked at the bottom of the press freedom table for 2008.

128 Jordan 36,00

129 Cameroon 36,90

130 Niger 37,00

131 Nigeria 37,75

132 Malaysia 39,50

133 Chad 41,25

134 Djibouti

135 Sudan 42,00

136 Bangladesh

137 Gambia 42,75

Thank you.

david santos said...

The capitalism is not human and the money is the devil!
Thanks for yours posting.

Anonymous said...


When you say that “the Government and its propaganda machinery telling us…”, that sums up the state of Malaysia’s press freedom.

If you, a former primetime newsperson, have the presence to say out loud what we have been cyber spacing all this while, we don’t need the Paris-based Reporters or Amnesty International or whoever to announce their findings.

Mainstream press and media are Government tools. Until such time when they are no more controlled by party authorities and functionaries, the alternative press has to battle on, against the odds.

The Rakyat do not condemn everything that is government based, whether policies or governance. It is just the injustice, corruption, and non tolerance that erode the Malaysian conscience.

Unknown said...

I wonder if those RSF guys has got the right info about press freedom in Malaysia or they are sleeping!

Where else in the world you can have SODOMY explained in detail in the main stream media (MSM) if not Malaysia?

Malaysian (men, women and kids) start their sex education via the MSM and hey...we start with the 'back door' entrance first!

Hey RSF guys..

study English and come to Malaysia for holiday...

Malaysia truly Asia!

Unknown said...

saudara sawit future trader..

Minta tlg bagi tahu macam mana nak mencari maksud "in between the lines" tajuk akhbar BERITA HAIRAN baru-baru ini...

”Sultan murka kerajaan PAS gagal tadbir Kelantan”

Anonymous said...

Dato Kadir.

Samasa Dato menjadi boss saya di NST,ada kah dato mengamalkan press freedom.Dato dan kawan kawan dato saperti Nazeri sama sahaja.Hanya menyiarkan beritakan yang sedap dibaca oleh Mahathir,Anwar ,Daim dan kuncho2nya.

Dato tak usahlah nak kelentong di sini.sekarang ini nak bercakap pasal press freedom.Poorrah?

Nak kata Dato Nyanok,Dato maseh muda,belum sampai 80 tahun.Tapi jangan lah bersikap hyprokrate.Jaga lah Moyet dato itu baik2.

Anonymous said...

A Kadir Jasin...

I don't really understand what's the point you want to show us show the rank of the Malaysia press transparency and that's it...No specific elaboration and no specific facts..

I don't know how do they 'measure' the transparency of a press (or you might tell us how) but unlike other countries (many countries) around the world, Malaysia is a 'unique' country which the people are among multiple races and religions.

We practice different elements based on ethnic and languages such schools, TVs,newspapers,celeberation, radio which I dont think it is exist in other any countries. In this case, it is very crucial for any kind of media stream in Malaysia to be 'open' and 'transparent' to certain issues. It is easy to say we need to be transparent and blalala..but are they really think what is transparent is all about?

If they said anything that government did, doing or will do need to be transparent, I will agree 100%. If they prove and print any wrong doings and wrong doers no matter how high the position is, I agree 100% that is transparency that we need. If the media plays the role to 'correct' and reveal ALL the information about the corruption, that is substantial bravery which we call TRANSPARENCY.

So, who's the agency (definitely from West) justified the TRANSPARENCY? Let me give example: In UK, many newspapers and tabloids which so called 'tranparent' stand for the sake of residents. In one case, they're acting like they're residents' voice and they wrote about the residents feel uncomfortable with the hiking numbers of immigrants in UK. And they try to propose some ideas which one of them stated that - no hijab in school. I see this as rudiculous proposal from so called First world country media agency. What's the relation between immigrants and hijab? Are they transparent? After read the whole article, I proposed that the best statement they should write is : "We, the white British people, don't agree with any kind of immigration from India, Somalia, Pakistan, China, Africa or any country that have the same criteria because they are very hardworking. Most of the working class jobs have been given to them rather than white British people."


How about the Danish cartoonist which humiliated prophet Muhammad with his ridiculous carricature? Is it the 'openess' and transparency of the media they defined?


How about the opposition parties in our country? Are they really transparent? Is it HARAKAH is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY transparent? for rakyat? or just for political purpose?


Is it bloggers really transparent? Or just more about slandering and rumours? So they could dazzling and ignite the fire to Malaysia's bloggers which many of them are gullible and naive.

So, the point I want to write here is we need to know what's the kind of transparency we should have for our nation and country rather than refer to the figure by outsiders.

Cambodia press more transparent than Malaysia?
My apology.....You know better Dato', coz you're the man!


Anonymous said...

ISA untuk kebaikan.
Kata Ibrahim Ali, nak tunggu malaysia jadi maccam pakistan baru nak buat ISA ke? dah terlambatlah...

semua orang kritik..tapi tak semua orang boleh berfikir....


Sdr Khairul,

Sila layari atau layari Yahoo atau Google dan cari Reporters Without Borders.

Sekarang bermacam ilmu dan maklumat boleh didapati melalui Internet.

Yang penting kita rajin dan tahu mencarinya.

Terima kasih.

Anonymous said...

Salam Dato',

Inilah yg dikatakan mentaliti syok sendiri atau 'self-proclaimed success" atau jaguh kampung atau katak bawah tempurung. Selama mana org Malaysia (baca org Melayu) masih tak celik ilmu maka selama itulah mereka lena didodoi lagu2 kejayaan palsu oleh pemimpin kerajaan (baca pemimpin umno). Kita pernah terkejut beruk apabila pasukan bolasepak malaysia kalah dgn pasukan laos satu masa dulu..saya rasa kalau tak berlaku reform dlm kerajaan tak lama lagi kita akan dapati negera spt vietnam akan lebih maju dan makmur drp kita..dulu kita yg terima boat people silap2 gaya kita atau nak2 kita jadi pekerja asing kat sana nanti.... apathy and ignorance are our enemies..
Pak Hj JB

affendi hussain said...

Salam Dato' & para pengomen/l..

1. Indeks BSKL jatuh kebawah paras 900 mata w/pun MOF telah mengumumkan suntikan RM10bil kpd ValueCap disamping propaganda promosi mengenai keampuhan prasarana ekonomi Malaysia di mata dunia.

2. Kalau tak kerana KWSP & PNB masih lagi memegang banyak saham2 di BSKL, rasanya tak mustahil indek BSKL terus menjunam ke paras 500 mata..

3. Persoalannya, di mana integriti media massa, & ketelusan dalam melapor situasi sebenar ekonomi & politik negara atas etika tanggungjawab? (soalan ini pun berkait rapat dgn integriti pemimpin2 politik berkenaan juga..)

4. MSM & media alternatif masing2 mencipta piawai sendiri untuk monyokong etika media & konsep 'ketelusan' yang sesuai dgn selera peminat dlm domain masing2 terutamanya dunia politik..

5. Kadang2 istilah 'ketelusan' (trasparency) itu di manifestasikan ke tahap laporan2 sensasi yg cuba menggambarkan apa saja yang ada di sebalik kain baju org untuk tatapan umum dgn keutamaan kesahihan fakta diletakkan dibelakang.

6. Maka, para penglipur lara ini sepatutnya sudah boleh menduga risiko atas tindakan mereka sendiri.. sama ada terpaksa memohon maaf umum, atau lebih teruk kena saman mega atau pakej percutian percuma tanpa bicara dgn menu makanan anjing di Kamunting.

7. Ketaksuban kadangkala menjerumus kepada kecetekan minda & kebutaan hati untuk melihat persepsi sebenar dalam konteks yg lebih luas melalui acuan struktur negara Malaysia terhadap kesannya kepada kestabilan ekosistem sosio-politik & ekonomi yg telah setengah abad terbina..

8. Itulah tanggungjawab..perlu tahu kesan yg perlu ditanggung & bagaimana nak bijak menjawab.

9. Ada patutnya para jurnalis & blogger dgn fahaman berpaksi utk jadi juara domain masing2 belajar & faham sedikit asas hukum fizik klasik... Newton's Laws of Motion - The 3rd Law (law of reciprocal action):
"Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.. "
Hukum2 alam berkait rapat dgn apa yg Penciptanya mahu hasil ciptaannya dibumi fikir, faham & tahu bersyukur.

10. Sebagai insan yakni bukan seperti yg 98% gen manusia seperti kawan sebelah Dato'..ada kalanya kita kena mengaku untuk bersetuju kpd perkara yg betul & baik serta membawa manfaat umum kpd semua. Tetapi yg sebaliknya berlaku dgn media2 politik di Malaysia yang ibarat 'matter' & 'anti-matter'

11. Dlm ilmu fizik, 'matter' & 'anti matter' tak boleh bertemu langsung kerana akan 'annihilate' antara satu sama lain & sama2 musnah malah tenaga terbebas boleh musnahkan apa yg ada di persekitaran! Collateral Damage.

12. Eloklah tu..kerana mereka, Malaysia skrg dah setaraf negara2 Afrika mundur..kalau mcm tu silap2 kita jadi mcm Somalia (negara tanpa kerajaan)..terima kasih kpd pengamal2 media & proksi kuasa2 dibalik tabir yg dah mcm 'lanun' .

13. Parlimen pun dah mcm sarkas.. bukan nak berhujah/berbahas dgn idea2 membina..sibuk nak cari salah org itu ini & penuh retorik..pembangkang yg konon cerdik pun tak nampak cerdik mana dah..agaknya bila YB2 ni bila pergi parlimen otak simpan kat rumah bg bini atau org lain jaga.

p/s: Dato..zaman moden skrg manusia dgn org utan pun dah mcm sama saja..bezanya org utan tak perlu nak berlagak dgn bulu perang kemerahannya yg cantik asli berbanding manusia yg 'terikut-ikut secara sintetik'..

Anonymous said...

Dato AKJ,

Malaysian Press freer during this regime? Don't make me laugh. When Badawi came to power in 2003 he unabashedly put people directly connected to him in charge of Media Prima - NSTP, TV3 - and RTM. The mainstream media appear freer because they can report on things as long as the stories do not touch on him or his family or cronies. Dr. Mahathir was strict with the media but he didn't pretend to be otherwise.

Media Watcher

Anonymous said...

Salaam, Dato'

What you did not mention is that Singapore is ranked 144th (in the bottom quarter) in the latest World Press Freedom Index.

Has this hurt Singapore? Not really. The country continues to pull in foreign investments and talent. It just signed a bilateral free trade agreement with China, the first FTA that China has signed with an Asian country. Bilateral trade between Singapore and China reached S$91.6 billion (RM200 billion+) last year.

200,000 Indian expats work in Singapore and more than 3,000 Indian companies have set up shop in the country. Bilateral Singapore-India trade reached S$64 billion (RM130 billion+) last year.

The latest World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index 2008-2009 ranked Singapore 5th and Malaysia 21st.

Singapore's forex reserves held by the Monetary Authority of Singapore are about S$240 billion. The Govt of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC) SEPARATELY manages reserves estimated at US$300 billion+. Temasek Holdings has a portfolio valued at about S$185 billion. Add that all up and it comes to approximately S$830 billion in reserves, give or take the odd billion or so.

I would say that Singapore is doing pretty damn well, considering the current global economic and financial crisis.

The great Singapore Si-Fu (aka LKY), in a speech at the recent Global Indian Diaspora conference in Singapore (at which our own Samy Vellu was an invited speaker. Why Samy Velu?), listed the 4 key factors for Singapore's success:

- a very good team of very able ministers
- a completely incorruptible govt
- a level playing field for everyone
- a conscious effort to make every Singaporean a stakeholder in the country

Note that LKY did not say anything about the freedom of the press as it applies to Singapore. Obviously he does not see it as an important factor in Singapore's success.

But that has not stopped international media organisations from setting up their regional HQs in Singapore.

I would venture my opinion that the Singapore Straits Times and Business Times newspapers and the Channel NewsAsia TV channel are way superior to their Malaysian counterparts. Why? Because they recruit their fair share of talent (which, by the way, includes a number of Malaysians).

So, let's not get into a frenzy over Malaysia's ranking in the World Press Freedom Index. That is unimportant in comparison to the need for a government that can address the issues facing Malaysia head-on without obfuscations and prevarications.

ChengHo said...

compare with other country in asean we are much better interm of press freedom. we knew singapore quite well how they treat the press freedom. our problem unlike Singapore is the political uncertainty NOT political stability.

what we need now is the POLITICAL STABILITY like Singapore . the good feeling coming back now with the recent announcement of power transition between AAB to Najib.

Anonymous said...


So there goes the 'bedouin' bashing and go I having my cuppa.

If we were to ask Malaysian that are not happy with the way things are going in this country if they would rather be living in Singapore what do you think the answer would be?

I asked a close, good friend and he said, "For me, I rather be living in the USA or Canada or Western Europe or in the Middle East. It is a matter of preference, of course."

Live in Singapore? Are you out of your mind, Scribe! I don't mind going there to visit the casino on holidays - haaah! But I don't mind making it my home in Koh Samui or Koh Phangan, Siam.

We look at modern Singapore and compare it with Malaysia and Sdr Teadrinker raised some valid points. Thank you, Teadrinker.

Now here is what is bugging me, Scribe: why is that from such a great city-state Singaporeans when some singaporeans they come visiting Malaysia can behave as hooligans the first chance they get? I do not want to go into the religious issue here.

But would Sdr Thegreateadrinkerdownsouth agree if I were to say that it is a city-state that is intrisically practicing socialism and dictatorship - can that be? I understand that is socialism can coexist in a democracy.

Yes, we Malaysians are a simmering potpuorri of ideals and we have yet to mature -if we are not weak in heart and body- as a civilised society. We do need to boil it - in the sense of melting different metals and mixing them, but we dare not.

We have to find our own solution to our problems -and i believe we are- and when we do will we be blessed with the condition and circumstances to embrace them and put them into practise then. Here, take Iran for example.

Terima Kasih, Sdr Thegreatteadrinkerdownsouth. Would you rather be a singaporean and why? If not, why?

Terima Kasih.

Man at Work said...

Dear Dato,

Probably the best piece of journal albeit nostalgia . But above all the educational elements in history & facts that we youngsters are oblivions. Bravo !!!

About Me

My photo
I was born in 1947 in Kedah. I came from a rice farming family. I have been a journalist since 1969. I am the Editor-in-Chief of magazine publishing company, Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd. I was Group Editor NST Sdn Bhd and Group Editor-in-Chief of NSTP Bhd between 1988 and 2000. I write fortnightly column “Other Thots” in the Malaysian Business magazine, Kunta Kinte Original in Berita Harian and A Kadir Jasin Bercerita in Dewan Masyarakat. Books: Biar Putih Tulang (1998), Other Thots – Opinions & Observations 1992-2001 (2001), The Wings of an Eagle (2003), Mencari Dugalia Huso (2006), Damned That Thots (2006), Blogger (2006), PRU 2008-Rakyat Sahut Cabaran (2008), Komedi & Tragedi-Latest in Contemporary Malaysian Politics (2009) and Membangun Bangsa dengan Pena (2009).