Friday, April 19, 2019

Malaysia's World Press Freedom Ranking Improves

It’s good to know that Malaysia's ranking on the World Press Freedom Index 2019 jumped 22 places to 123 out of 180 countries, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). 

The Paris-based watchdog attributed the significant rise to the Barisan Nasional administration being ousted in last year's general election, which it said impacted upon the freedom of the media to inform. 

They said in a statement: "The general environment for journalists is much more relaxed, self-censorship has declined dramatically, and the print media are now offering a fuller and more balanced range of viewpoints". 

RSF also noted that media outlets and journalists that had been blacklisted – including cartoonist Zunar and the Sarawak Report investigative news website – could now resume working without fear of harassment. 

Still, they noted that authorities "still have a draconian legislative arsenal with which to suppress media freedom". This includes the Sedition Act 1948, Official Secrets Act 1972, and Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, all of which enable authorities to impose strict control over publication licences. 

Malaysians will want to see these punitive laws decriminalized. 

Anyway, the country recorded a score of 36.74 for 2018, falling 10.67 points from the year before. According to the index, a higher score indicates deteriorating press freedom. 

Certainly, Malaysia is better placed than its ASEAN neighbors, such as Indonesia (124th), Philippines (134th), Thailand (136th), Myanmar (138th), Cambodia (143rd), Singapore (151st), Brunei (152nd), Laos (171st), and Vietnam (176th). 

Finishing at the top of the index was Norway, followed by Finland and Sweden. 

Today, I conducted the second in a series of sharing workshops with staff of Fonterra Brands Malaysia.

My first session was on March 22, 2019. Then I had 6 participants but today, the number doubled. 

Of the twelve, ten are (former) Toastmasters and two are non-Toastmasters.

Indeed, a productive one-and-a-half hours – and I sincerely believe, if given time, those who came can become good communicators. 

Although their Toastmasters club is currently classified as “inactive” – I am still willing to help them master the basics of Speech Crafting with an emphasis on Impromptu Speaking. We cannot deny that we all need public speaking skills – therefore, whether they are Toastmasters or not is irrelevant. 

I am just happy to contribute. 

BTW, I too delivered an impromptu speech.

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