Malaysia’s flailing politically-owned newspapers, unable to compete against the freewheeling online press, blogs and unrestrained chatter on social media, have now managed to extract from the government a promise to hobble the online media, instead of expanding the boundaries of press freedom.
At the same time, the government announced it would be introducing a new law to control the press through a Press Coumcil, which it claimed would practise self-regulation.
Details of the new law were not revealed.
The two announcements came as a severe contrast to the prime minister’s proud boast 10 days ago when he claimed credit for Malaysia’s seeming rise in a world press freedom index. » What Najib Doesn’t Want You To Know About Press Freedom
Last night, at the Malaysian Press Institute awards ceremony, the prime minister said: “The government cannot be viewed as practising double standards in its rules towards the printed and digital media.”
That plainly means he is giving in to the demands of Utusan Malaysia and NSTP groups and The Star who have at various times bleated about how unfair it was that newspapers were regulated by press laws while Internet outfits operate under a strict promise of no censorship.
Failing to end press controls, the newspaper companies sought instead to get the government to repress the Internet. » MORE: New law to control press, and a promise to hobble Internet