Press Freedom Index: Malaysia shames Singapore

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It comes as no surprise to me that Malaysia has moved up 19 places to be ranked 122 out of 179 countries on the Press Freedom Index 2011-2012.

Singapore moved up one miserable place from 136 to 135 with countries like Angola, Tunisia, Honduras, Israel, Thailand and Uganda for company.

Singapore lags far far behind countries like Japan (22), South Korea (44), Taiwan (45) and Hong Kong (54).

How about China, the country much admired by the regime? It ranks 174, at the bottom of the class.

Singapore’s deplorable showing is hardly surprising given a repressive government.

With characteristic arrogance, the regime will dismiss the Press Freedom Index as misleading and biased. Its methodology is flawed the regime would counter.

The upshot of all this is that people distrust the main stream media and gravitate towards the Internet and the social media for alternative news sources. Along with this the grape vine and rumours also thrive.

This accounts for the stunning popularity of socio-political blogs where readers can compare notes, share experiences and criticise the regime, making the latter uncomfortable and perhaps even giving them sleepless nights.

Coffee shop talk is that the regime is trying to curb the Internet and the social media, perhaps trying to emulate China. Like all repressive regimes, it resents criticism.

Again, no surprise there.

The regime talks grandly about an inclusive society. But it’s mere lip service.

All repressive regimes know that one of the proven ways to remain in power is to maintain control of the mass media.

Anyone who thinks Singapore will make a gigantic leap in future rankings on the Press Freedom Index is guilty of wishful thinking.

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