Malaysia: Freedom of Expression 2008

Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia

The debate for freedom of expression intensified in 2008 following the 12th general election, that is now known as the “political tsunami”. Thanks to the changing political landscape, freedom of expression made an impact on the public consciousness as well as building inroads to the national agenda.

In the months after the election, on the pages of newspapers were lengthy discussion on the need to free the media. Stories of Malaysians holding demonstrations for various issues has noticeably increased. The internet got more popular as Malaysians were drawn to the type of unregulated exercise of freedom of expression available there.

Responding to such upbeat mood, the ruling government still resisted to any major reform, for example shelving the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Internal Security Act, nor relinquishing political interference in the newsrooms. Still, 2008 was a year where such persistent stubbornness looks awkward instead of chilling among the public that has grown more aware.

Malaysia: Freedom of Expression 2008 documents both the changes and the lack thereof since the political tsunami of the debate. The review highlights the scenario on freedom of assembly, media freedom, journalism ethics and the state of the profession, and the online media. Appendices are included for the events discussed as well as other relevant happenings.

In retrospect, the Centre for Independent Journalism is hopeful that 2008 is the start of a long-drawn out process to media law reform and greater freedom of expression. The year has testified that the Malaysian public holds the key to a more accountable government through their exercise of freedom of expression.

Gayathry Venkitswaran
Executive Director

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