Malaysians Celebrate A Gloomy World Press Freedom Day 2010

Malaysians Celebrate A Gloomy World Press Freedom Day 2010 By Remaining In The Bottom 32% Of Countries In The World With A Press That Is Classified By Freedom House As “Not Free”.

Malaysians celebrate a gloomy World Press Freedom day 2010 by being in the bottom 32% of countries in the world with a press that is classified by Freedom House as “not free”. Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization based in the US that supports the expansion of freedom around the world. Freedom House supports democratic change, monitors freedom, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

In its latest 2010 Global Press Freedom rankings, Malaysia is listed at No. 141 equal with war-torn Zambia and Algeria as well as behind other war-torn countries such as Pakistan, and Liberia at 134. With 3 press freedom categories of ‘Free’, ‘Partly Free’ and ‘Not Free’ amongst 196 countries in the world, Malaysia is classified together with 63 countries in the world whose press is “not free”.

Amongst the principal reasons why Malaysia fares so poorly by being “Not Free” in press freedom is the existence of draconian law such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Internal Security Act, the Official Secrets Act and the Sedition Act. Malaysia can quickly climb up the rankings to be “partly free” by abolishing all these repressive laws.

Press freedom in Malaysia can be “free” if the Federal government enacts a Freedom of Information Act(FOI) and prohibits media ownership by political parties or political leaders. This is the principal reason why press freedom in a democratic country like Italy is classified by Freedom House as “partly free” as a result of control and ownership of media by the current Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. If Silvio Berlusconi disposed off his shares and media ownership, then press freedom in Italy will be quickly upgraded to “free”.

The question now is whether the BN government is serious about the New Economic Model(NEM) in developing talent, encouraging competition and nurturing excellence in an environment that is both transparent and accountable. Transparency and accountability have being identified by the Prime Minister as the core of the NEM to transform Malaysia into a high-income knowledge-based economy.

Without press freedom, accountability and transparency will cease to exist. The Federal government must therefore undertake three measures to give the NEM every chance of success by making press freedom “free” in Malaysia in firstly abolishing all repressive laws, secondly enacting a FOI and finally prohibiting media ownership by political parties or political leaders.

Penang will be creating a little bit of history by establishing the first “Speaker’s Corner” to allow free speech modeled after Hyde Park London on 5 May 2010 at Padang Kota Lama next to the Penang City Town Hall.

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