Malaysia has come in at 145th out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, falling one rank from last year.
The country’s score, 47.41, also worsened from last year with an increase of 0.52. According to the index, a higher score indicates deteriorating press freedom.
“Several proposed amendments would reinforce the already draconian Official Secrets Act 1972 and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, posing additional threats to the Malaysian media’s freedom to cover the 2018 general election.
“Bloggers are closely monitored by the authorities, who can prosecute them for spreading ‘false news’, a euphemism for criticism of the government,” read the report on the 2018 World Press Freedom Index.
The index is an annual global overview of press freedom compiled by international watchdog group Reporters Without Borders.
The RSF also noted that China’s media control model is increasing its influence in Asia Pacific countries, including Malaysia.
Though it highlighted Vietnam and Cambodia as the two Asian countries most threatened by this model, it also said its influence is felt by media in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
Among the methods employed in the Chinese media control model, which has been employed in the Asia Pacific, include suppression of independent voices, the ruling government’s increased dominance of the mass media, and a meticulous control of social media.
Malaysia’s current ranking sees it fall below countries like Thailand, Myanmar, India, Pakistan, Venezuela and Cambodia.
However, Malaysia’s 145th rank puts it ahead of Bangladesh, Mexico, Russia, Singapore and Vietnam.
Occupying the top five places are Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Finland and Switzerland.
Rooted at the bottom, meanwhile, are China, Syria, Turkmenistan, Eritrea and North Korea, whose rankings remained unchanged.