RSF condemns Malaysia’s political news website shutdowns

The Malaysian government’s recent shutdown of political news websites drew criticism from Reporters Without Borders, highlighting concerns about censorship’s impact on democracy and media freedom in the country.

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The recent shutdown of various political news websites in Malaysia by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has been criticized by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). RSF also urges the Ministry of Communications and Digital to put an end to such acts of censorship. On 29 August, several Malaysian journalists released a statement denouncing the MCMC’s censorship of portals and online news sources. Government-critical websites have been blocked in recent weeks, and the regulatory agency has required that some of their content be deleted.

From mid-August, MCMC blocked access to the news website TV Pertiwi nationwide. The workers of TV Pertiwi also disobeyed an MCMC order to delete certain content from their websites. Additionally, websites for online publications like UtusanTV and Malaysia News are restricted.

Cédric Alviani, RSF Asia-Pacific Bureau Director, expressed concern over Malaysian authorities’ suspensions of news websites critical of the government. Alviani urges Minister of Communications and Digital Fahmi Fadzil to end these censorship acts, which could negatively impact Malaysia’s democracy.

Although media freedom in Malaysia has increased recently, independent journalists and media organisations are still frequently attacked by the government. According to RSF’s 2023 World Press Freedom Index, Malaysia is rated 73rd out of 180 nations.

Why does it matter?

Press freedom is a cornerstone of democracy, enabling the public to access diverse perspectives and hold governments accountable. The recent actions by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to shut down critical political news websites in Malaysia are a concerning development. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned these measures as they limit the citizens’ right to information and stifle independent journalism. In a time when the importance of free and independent media is underscored, such censorship raises alarm bells. It highlights the ongoing challenges journalists and media outlets face in Malaysia and serves as a reminder of the media’s vital role in safeguarding democracy and promoting transparency. International attention to this issue is crucial to ensure that press freedom is upheld and protected in Malaysia and elsewhere.