In Search of Freedom of Information and Democracy

SEAPA’s Right to Know Series: Access to Information in Southeast Asia

[See country reports on Cambodia, Indonesia,and Thailand]

The push for freedom of information in Malaysia gained immense traction in the aftermath of the 12th general election in March 2008 that witnessed an unprecedented electoral setback for incumbent Barisan Nasional (BN) and immense electoral gains by the opposition political parties. BN lost its majority in five of 12 state legislatures, that is in Kelantan, Penang, Kedah, Perak and Selangor, while its share of parliamentary seats slipped from 91 percent to 63. The Opposition, consisting of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), formed a loose coalition called Pakatan Rakyat (PR, People’s Pact) and consequently ruled these five states.

Prior to, and after, the 2008 general election, civil society groups such as Bersih, Empower, Suaram, Bar Council, Centre for Public Policy Studies and Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) had been campaigning for a Freedom of Information (FOI) especially in the states under the control of the PR, namely Selangor and Penang, where their leadership have been championing the principles of transparency and accountability. Furthermore, these PR leaders made an electoral promise to be different from their political nemesis BN by promoting transparency and accountability that clearly necessitate a freedom of information regime.

However, the state of Kelantan, which has been governed by PAS longer than Selangor and Penang have been by the Opposition, has not pushed for FOI partly because civil societies there did not put pressure on the Kelantan government, apart from the fact that Kelantan PAS did not make freedom of information as part of its electoral campaign. Additionally, FOI takes a back seat in Kelantan because it appears that the needs and necessities of the state’s largely rural and agrarian sector necessitate a different set of priorities.

The struggle for freedom of information, to be sure, is often fraught with problems and challenges, particularly from a BN government that has the tendency to work under the cover of secrecy that is often justified by so-called reasons of national security and national harmony. Hence, the restrictive Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA), a colonial legacy, is often deployed by the BN government to the extent that it becomes a stubborn obstacle to FOI initiatives in the country.

This report is essentially to examine the larger social context in which the initiatives to institute the FOI enactment were made, the FOI enactment itself and also challenges to these initiatives.

The Malaysian setting

Malaysia has an area of about 330,000 square kilometres, and this includes Peninsular Malaysia on the west and the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak, as well as the Federal Territoryie of Labuan island and Putrajaya, the new administrative capital. These eastern states border with Indonesia and Brunei, while Peninsular Malaysia shares its boundaries with Thailand in the north and Singapore in the south.

In terms of its people, Malaysia is multiethnic, multicultural and multi-religious, consisting of three main ethnic groups, namely, Malays, Chinese and Indians, and other ethnic minorities such as Kadazans, Bajaus, Ibans and Muruts that are found in East Malaysia, and Orang Asli and Eurasians in the peninsula. The Malays and other indigenous peoples in the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak are collectively called the bumiputra (literally, sons of the soil) and they form the majority group in society. As of August 2015, the country’s population has reached the 31 million mark.

The diversity of the Malaysian populace is an element worthy of celebration, but it invariably has engendered over the years ethnic politics and ethnic-based political parties that essentially operate on the basis of being champions of the respective ethnic communities. This in turn has brought about occasional ethno-religious tensions, anxiety and suspicion within the larger society. It is also under this politico-cultural climate that the federal government justifies efforts to curb freedom of expression and information supposedly in the name of the common good of the ordinary people and also national security.

Malaysia’s Federal Constitution grants fundamental rights, particularly in relation to freedom of expression, of association, and of assembly, which is provided for in Article 10 of the Constitution. However, at the same time Articles 10(2) (a), 10(4), 149 and 150 authorises Parliament to impose certain restrictions on free speech if it deems necessary or expedient on the following 14 grounds, one of which is the security of the Federation or any part thereof (such laws as the Official Secrets Act [OSA], Printing Presses and Publications Act [PPPA] and the Sedition Act come under this rubric). Another is public order (Sedition Act, Police Act, PPPA, and Broadcasting Act are given their rationale here).

Such strong provisions only demonstrate that the Constitution “has been so devised as to give the government in Parliament virtually unfettered powers to do whatever it wishes to do to regulate speech, assembly and association.” (Shad Saleem Faruqui & Sankaran Ramanathan, 1998: 14-16)

Malaysia’s media industry

The media industry in Malaysia is structured as such it invariably serves the interests of the ruling elite by virtue of the fact that the majority of media organisations in the country are owned and controlled by BN parties or their economic allies.

The Privatisation Policy launched by the former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad administration in 1983 owes its inspiration from the rise of Thatcherism and Reaganism in the early 1980s when the economies of both Britain and the US were experiencing stagnation. This was also the period that witnessed a radical swing to conservative economic thinking. It was also under this policy that the door to Malaysia’s media industry was opened to certain segments of the ruling elite.

Over the years, the media industry in Malaysia has witnessed a growing and troubling trend of media ownership concentration and consolidation, which was triggered by economic and, to some extent, political considerations. As intimated above, much of the mainstream media are in the hands of a few who are closely aligned with or friendly to the ruling coalition. A cursory look at the press ownership pattern in Malaysia would indicate the degree of involvement of the various component parties of the BN and their economic allies. Although these media companies are public listed, the ownership is not very transparent in most cases.

Media Prima, which is by far the largest media conglomerate in the country, has a large stake in the New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd (NSTP) – which publishes the English-language newspapers New Straits Times, New Sunday Times, Malay Mail, and Sunday Mail, and the Malay-language newspapers Berita Harian, Berita Minggu, and the fast growing Harian Metro – and also owns the Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Bhd (or popularly known as TV3), the new channel 8TV, Channel 9, and the recently acquired ntv7. This group, which is said to be close to the dominant UMNO party, also owns the radio stations WAfm and Fly.FM (The Edge, Nov. 21, 2005).

An investment arm of the BN component party Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA)Huaren Holdings owns the English-language The Star and Sunday Star; the Chinese-language dailies Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press; and the radio stations Redi 988 and Red 104.9 (The Edge, Nov. 21, 2005). The acquisition of Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd., which publishes Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press, by Huaren Holdings on May 28, 2001 triggered strong opposition from the ethnic Chinese community as a whole because this sale was perceived as ‘the final nail for press freedom in the country’ (SUARAM, 2001: 90). In October 2006, the MCA sold off its share in Nanyang Press Holdings to Chinese media baron Tiong Hiew King (Malaysiakini, Oct. 17, 2006) who already owns another media group, Sin Chew Media Corp. Bhd. (see below).

Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd group, which is closely linked to UMNO, owns the Malay-language newspapers Utusan Malaysia, Mingguan Malaysia, Utusan Melayu Mingguan and tabloid Kosmo!. Apart from newspapers, the group also publishes magazines, namely Wanita, Mangga, Saji, Rias, URTV, Hai, Mastika, Harmoni, Al-Islam, Kawan, Pemikir and Umph (http://www.utusangroup.com.my/).

Timber tycoon Tiong Hiew King, who owns Sin Chew Media Corp Bhd., publishes the popular Sin Chew Daily and Guang Ming Daily, apart from having other media interests in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. This Sarawakian media magnate, who is well connected to the Sarawak state’s political elite, reportedly had increased his stake in Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd., fuelling suspicion that he was a step closer to fulfilling his ambition to establish a ‘global Chinese media network’ (SUARAM, 2004: 72).

Another Sarawakian, timber tycoon Lau Hui Kiang, was given permission by then premier Mahathir to operate the Chinese Oriental Daily as a way of checking the growing influence of Tiong in the Chinese community (Gomez 2004, 482). The daily’s birth was filled with pangs of pain as its permit was suspended on the very day it was launched in September 2002, and only to be reinstated after three months of negotiations with the Ministry of Internal Security. The emergence of Oriental Daily had raised hopes among the Chinese community that it could provide democratic space for criticisms and dissent soon after the Nanyang takeover. But these hopes were dashed as the newspaper increasingly practised self-censorship and, buckled under the pressure of the Internal Security Ministry, terminated certain columns of critical writers (SUARAM, 2004: 72-73).

There are a number of laws that are enforced in Malaysia in the name of protecting and promoting law and order, internal security as well as national development. The multiethnic, multicultural and multi-religious nature of Malaysia also provides a convenient excuse for the state to employ these laws if and when necessary. The Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA), whose predecessor is the Printing Presses Ordinance of 1948, is a primary piece of legislation that governs the press industry. The Act also empowers the Minister concerned to revoke the permit of a publication should he decide that the publication concerned had acted in a manner ‘prejudicial to the nation’s security’. Prior to a 1984 amendment, the law gave the Minister the power to grant a permit no less than twelve months. After 1984, the Minister is empowered to grant a permit for more limited duration if he deems it fit to do so.

In 1988, the PPPA was further amended to preclude any judicial review of the Home Minister’s decision if the Minister revoked or suspended a publishing permit on the grounds that the publication was prejudicial to public order. This indicates the dominance of the Executive over the Judiciary. Apart from this, Section 7(1) of the amended Act empowers the Minister to prohibit the printing, sale, import, distribution or possession of a publication. The Minister may do this if he believes that a publication can threaten morality, public order, security or national interest, conflicts with the law or contains provocative materials (International Law Book Services 1998).

In April 2012, the PPPA was further amended that was supposedly aimed at curbing the absolute discretion of the Home Minister. The action of the minister to revoke or deny publishing permit and printing licence can be challenged in a court of law. However, what remains is that the Minister still has the power to exert his control over the publications concerned as far as deciding on the sustainability of their permit is concerned.

There is also the Communications and Multimedia Act that essentially governs the broadcasting industry in Malaysia. Applications for the operating licences for TV and radio stations would require the final approval of the minister concerned, and this is where the crucial power to select whom to run a TV or radio station comes in.

The Official Secrets Act (OSA) is another piece of legislation that restricts journalists amongst others who, in their professional duty, seek information especially from government establishments. The Edge Financial Daily was sued in August 2014 by a firm bidding to manage Malaysia’s fuel subsidy rationalization programme for an allegedly defamatory article. The firm also demanded the daily to reveal its sources which leaked details of a federal Cabinet meeting discussion, which also comes under the provision of the OSA (http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/firm-sues-the-edge-for-rm100-million-wants-sources-revealed). Another case involved a blogger, Nathaniel Tan, who was arrested in July 2007 under the OSA and accused of possessing official documents that implied corruption in the government (http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2007/7/20/malaysian-blogger-disputes-arrest-one-week/). Cases such as these underline the gravity of OSA in the context of FOI initiatives.

Another law that has an acute impact on press freedom and freedom of expression is the Sedition Act. Originally designed with the intention of curbing expressions that could incite ethnic hatred and social disorder especially after the tragic May 13, 1969 ethnic riots, the deployment of this law over a period of time suggests that it could also be used to curb genuine and sincere criticisms of certain policies of the government. In short, it is a piece of legislation that can muzzle critics and dissenters.

In the final analysis, this slew of legislations discourages investigative journalism in Malaysia. As shown above, these laws pose obstacles to efforts to gain information among journalists and editors alike, and consequently the ordinary people are deprived of important information that they require in their daily lives. Such a situation makes it more urgent for media practitioners and civil society groups to endeavour for freedom of information in the country.

Undemocratic laws and civil liberties

Apart from the above media-related laws, there are also other repressive laws of the land that impinge upon the professionalism and freedom of journalists. Furthermore, the negative impact of these laws is also felt by the ordinary people who seek information and express views for political, economic and cultural purposes.

In a fanfare to usher in his purportedly new liberal administration, Prime Minister Najib Razak replaced the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) with the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA) on 18 April 2012. Journalists had been detained under the ISA with the excuse of protecting national security. Although SOSMA is bereft of the ISA’s dreaded provision of detention without trial, the definition of ‘security offence’ in the law is problematic as it can cast a very wide net to even include legitimate and peaceful demonstrations such as Bersih rally calling for free and fair elections, or even a possession of Mao t-shirts. Furthermore, the power to detain suspects for 28 days only resides with the police without judicial supervision. Persons arrested under SOSMA need not be produced before a magistrate. Finally, SOSMA compels the court to imprison suspects after acquittal upon the public prosecutor’s application. If the public prosecutor appeals an acquittal and applies for imprisonment of the accused, the law prescribes that the court commits the accused to prison pending the appeal’s disposal.

As if to roll back on its reform promise, the Najib administration passed amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) on October 3, 2013, which includes detention without trial and restrictions on judicial review. These provisions are certainly a throwback to the dark days of the ISA.

And as if the above action of the Najib government isn’t enough to throw the spanner in the works, the BN-dominated Parliament passed on October 22, 2013 an amendment to the Penal Code (Section 203A) which essentially criminalises unauthorised dissemination of information by civil servants to the general public. This means that any officials found leaking government information can be imprisoned up to a year or fined up to RM1 million.

The Clause 11 of the Penal Code penalises whistleblowers who expose corruption and government misconduct while protecting wrongdoers under the cover of official secrecy. This is undoubtedly a regression in terms of the Najib administration’s so-called transformation policy. More seriously, this amended Penal Code can render useless the Whistleblowers Protection Act (WPA) that has been enforced since December 2010.

According to DAP senior politician Lim Kit Siang, “Under the WPA, a whistleblower does not enjoy any protection if he decides to communicate his allegation of wrongdoing to a person other than a government enforcement agency. And under the Act, even if the report is made to a government enforcement agency, the protection can be revoked if the enforcement agency is of the opinion that the report ‘principally involves questioning the merits of government policy, including policy of a public body’, or if the whistleblower commits an offence under the Act, such as disclosing the contents of his report to a third party.” (http://blog.limkitsiang.com/2012/03/06/how-effective-has-the-enforcement-of-the-whistleblower-protection-act-2010wpa-been-in-malaysia/)

Another piece of legislation that is equally contentious and impinges upon one’s freedom of expression and freedom of information is the recently amended Evidence Act. Section 114A, otherwise known as Evidence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2012, was passed by the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara (the lower and upper houses) in April 2012.   Under this Section, an Internet user is deemed the publisher of any online content unless proven otherwise. It also makes individuals and those who administer, operate or provide spaces for online community forums, blogging and hosting services, liable for content published through their services. This prompted Malaysia’s Centre for Independent Journalism to remark: “This presumption of guilt goes against a fundamental principle of justice – innocent until proven guilty — and disproportionately burdens the average person who may not have the resources to defend himself in court.” (http://www.digitalnewsasia.com/digital-economy/govt-stealthily-gazettes-evidence-act-amendment-law-is-now-in-operation#sthash.Q4iumwkv.dpuf)

The laws discussed in this section curb civil liberties, particularly the citizens’ right to information and exchange of views as well as the right to seek legal redress. And in the case of the recently amended Penal Code, it effectively discourages government officials from disseminating information that is needed by the ordinary people for it criminalises such an act of dissemination. These and other laws discussed above are the very socio-political context in which the initiatives to introduce Freedom of Information law took place.

Prior to the implementation of the FOI enactment, researchers, civil society groups, and members of the public resort to visiting government departments, contacting state legislative assemblypersons and also forwarding enquiries in the Federal Parliament in their effort to gain access to official information. Members of public also gain information from public meetings conducted by local councils such as the Petaling Jaya Town Council.

Freedom of Information (FOI): Pioneering initiatives from Selangor and Penang state governments

In the wake of the 2008 general elections in Malaysia, in which the state of Selangor, among other few states in the peninsula, was successfully captured by the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition from incumbent Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, the PR government in Selangor took the necessary steps in what appeared to be an arduous journey to introduce the FOI law in the state. The Selangor state government was also compelled in some ways to commit itself to freedom of information by various campaigns spearheaded by the Coalition for Good Governance, which consists of 55 civil society groups such as Centre for Independent Journalism, Centre for Orang Asli Concerns, Sisters in Islam and Suaram.

Riding on the wave of their electoral successes in 2008, the PR governments in the states of Selangor and Penang promised to make good their commitment to governance that is transparent and accountable. In the first parliamentary sitting in 2008, Subang Member of Parliament (MP) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president R Sivarasa attempted to table a private member’s bill on freedom of information (FOI).  Although it was listed in the order paper, the bill however failed to catch the attention of the House of Representatives in the Malaysian Parliament.

Freedom of information and media freedom in Selangor need to be assessed to a large degree against the larger backdrop of the media industry and laws in the country. As intimated above, the mainstream media are very much owned and controlled by the state and its economic allies which, in turn, have a negative impact upon media freedom, freedom of information and freedom of expression in the country.

Given such political environment, the Selangor state government has taken several initiatives that can be construed as pro-active attempts to broaden the parameters of media freedom in the state. For one thing, the state government has made a commendable move to table a Freedom of Information (FOI) Enactment in March in 2010, an endeavour that was crucial in promoting free access to government information for the benefit of the ordinary people. This is apart from the aim to counter the negative effects of the Official Secrets Act that has given rise to a culture of secrecy within the government sector. To be sure, the odds are still stacked against the Selangor government in its attempt to provide essential information. The Coalition for Good Governance (CGG) met with the Selangor Chief Minister in April 2008 to discuss several major issues such as workers, the environment, public facilities and, last but not least, freedom of information. In this meeting the CGG made few demands as far as FOI was concerned. The group called on the Selangor government to, among other things, allow easy access to official information; declassify documents; and appoint a member of the State Executive Committee to be responsible for an information portfolio for Selangor.

In keeping with the state government’s objective of being transparent and accountability, the Selangor Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) has already declassified certain documents pertaining to certain questionable business transactions (http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/42937-selangor-to-have-freedom-of-information-enactment ).

Such vital information needs to be disseminated to as many people as possible, and in the case of the Selangor state government, it does it through its newly established Selangorkini monthly newspaper that is distributed to various parts of the state. While it is commendable that the state government has initiated to publish this newspaper in its attempt to be transparent to the general public, the fact remains that it is indeed a newspaper owned and published by the state, and hence its credibility as an independent and free publication may suffer to a certain degree in the eyes of a discerning public.

The online version of the monthly newspaper, www.selangorkini.com.my, is indicative of a conscious effort on the part of the Selangor state government to reach out to a wider audience. What needs to be emphasised is that the online newspaper too needs to make itself easily open to ideas, views and criticisms from the general public.

These endeavours to provide a democratic mechanism for better interaction between the state of Selangor and the people are understandable given the oft-negative reportage about the state government found in mainstream newspapers that are largely owned by or aligned to the BN. For instance, an incident involving the construction of a Hindu temple in Shah Alam, the capital of federal opposition-led Selangor, was reported in the mainstream newspapers in such a way as to give the impression that the state government was insensitive to the religious belief of the largely dominant Malay ethnic community.

In addition, it is impossible for the Selangor state government, in its desire to foster free flow of information, to encourage and allow the emergence of independent newspapers in Selangor given that the issuance of publishing permits for newspapers comes under the purview of the Home Minister.

With the advancement in the information and communications technology, the Selangor state government is able to set up its own WebTV, i.e. www.tvselangor.com, and launched in May 2009, thereby bypassing possible complications associated with the application of a licence to run a TV station. The stated objectives of having this WebTV are, among other things, to broadcast media statements of the Menteri Besar and his Executive Committee members, the proceedings of the state assembly, and of Selcat. Again, like the monthly newspaper, this WebTV must provide space for intense public participation in discourses of development, economy, culture etc. as a way of improving its public credibility. Obviously, one-way communication may prove futile and undemocratic.

The website, www.selangor.gov.my, which provides public disclosure of the properties owned by the Selangor State Executive Council members, and latest programmes of the state government, would be beneficial to the general public. But this, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean that committed journalists do not have to conduct their own investigative journalism pertaining to the state government that is of public import, i.e. to go beyond what has been offered on the website concerned.

Eventually, the FOI Enactment in Selangor was passed in April 2010, which indicates a significant step forward in a larger society that has been shrouded in secrecy over the last few decades.

Although commendable, Selangor’s FOI Enactment still suffers from several weaknesses that hinder the full force of the law. In particular, this piece of legislation does not specify when public bodies are required to periodically disclose information, it stipulates penalties for applicants who use the information sought for purposes other than those specified in an application (Section 18(1)), and it fails to specify how appointments will be made to the State information Board (Section 17(2)).

In a public hearing held on 27 January 2015 to hear the views of four Selangor state information officers regarding the implementation of the FOI Enactment, it was revealed that there was a vital line to be drawn between disclosing information to the public and the privacy of individuals. According to state Select Committee on Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) chairperson Hannah Yeoh, “… some individuals are abusing this process for their own benefit.” There have been 163 applications requesting information since 2013, of which only five applications were rejected (https://www.facebook.com/hannah.yeoh.5/posts/10152693815092333).

In practice, public disclosure and participation featured strongly in Selangor in relation to the controversial construction of a highway, the Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (KIDEX), which was later called off due to strong public pressure.

The Penang State Assembly passed the PR state government’s FOI Enactment in November 2011, which is very much similar to that of the Selangor state government. According to Penang state assemblyperson Wong Hon Wai (Air Itam constituency), the push for the FOI primarily came from the civil society. There was no equivalent in Penang the Coalition for Good Governance of Selangor in pushing for the FOI. He added that the PR commitment to the FOI arose from the concern regarding the close tender practice of the BN in awarding contracts, which had led to abuse and corruption. (Personal interview, 28 Jan. 2014)

Given that Penang’s FOI was drafted along the lines of Selangor’s, Penang’s FOI enactment, which was implemented in early January 2015, too has, to a large degree, inherited similar weaknesses. One of the complaints raised regarding Penang FOI was that the fee for access to official documents was considered exorbitant. The fee is 10 times higher than the charges imposed by the Selangor state government. The fee in Penang for a document of the current year is RM50.00 (equivalent to USD12) while document from previous years is charged at RM100.00 (USD24) (http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/287113).

But the major stumbling block to the full and effective implementation of the FOI laws in the two states is the slew of repressive laws that were introduced, implemented and still maintained by the federal BN government in the country. For one thing, as already mentioned above, the Official Secrets Act (OSA), a colonial legacy that is proudly preserved and further tightened by the BN government, overrides the very basic principle of the right to information in the two states and elsewhere in the federation. And like the recently amended Penal Code, the OSA criminalises unauthorised dissemination of state information by government officials. The ludicrousness of the vague definition of what constitute ‘secret’ in the OSA is best exemplified by the fact that in 1997 the Air Pollution Index in Malaysia was classified as an official secret.

The Whistleblowers Protection Act (2010) (WPA), as the name implies, is supposed to provide whistleblowers legal protection from the state. However, the law stipulates that a whistleblower could be fined up to RM50,000 (USD12,000) or jailed up to 10 years if he/she discloses any information about a person accused of wrongdoing, or any other information, to a third party and not a person in authority. Under the WPA, an informer is expected to make a report to an enforcement agency such as the police. This is hardly encouraging to a whistleblower especially if a corruption is suspected to have occurred in one of the enforcement agencies. Once again, it also implies that access to such information is fraught with high risks.

The other repressive laws that are discussed above, such as the Sedition Act and Prevention of Crime Act, are equally chilling in effect. At the very least, these laws put fear into the hearts of concerned government officials and ordinary citizens given the harsh forms of punishment that await the prosecuted.

Furthermore, these repressive laws collide with and overwhelm the noble initiative to introduce and implement FOI laws in the land. This in turn makes a mockery of the promise of social transformation by the Najib administration. Despite large scale scandals in the administration involving public savings funds and investment bodies, the Prime Minister and his administration at the Federal level have yet to shift towards more openness, and instead have resorted to old-fashioned crackdowns of the opposition, activists and journalists. The controversial 1MDB project, a government owned company supposed to promote development, has seen Najib restricting information and disclosure, instead of making public expenditures, investments and allegations of corruption. It is the worst case scenario, as these laws hamper greatly the further democratisation of the Malaysian society, and also the endeavour to make the government more transparent and accountable to the very people whose name is often invoked by the state when carrying out policies and implementing laws that effectively curb their freedoms.

That said, the advent and existence of the Internet has provided some space for alternative views as well as opportunities for members of the general public to access certain information that would otherwise be inaccessible. In other words, the cyber world compels government to be transparent and accountable to a certain degree.

References

Gomez, Edmund Terrence (2004), ‘Politics of the Media Business: The Press Under Mahathir’, in Bridget Welsh (ed), Reflections: The Mahathir Years, Washington DC: Johns Hopkins University, pp.475-485.

International Law Book Services (1998), Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and Deposit of Library Material Act 1986, Kuala Lumpur: ILBS.

Shad Saleem Faruqui & Sankaran Ramanathan (1998), Mass Media Laws and Regulations in Malaysia, Singapore: AMIC.

SUARAM (2004), Malaysia: Human Rights Report 2004, Petaling Jaya: SUARAM Kommunikasi.

SUARAM (2001), Malaysian Human Rights Report 2001, Petaling Jaya: SUARAM Kommunikasi.

Newspapers

New Straits Times

The Edge

Malaysiakini

Websites

http://pqi.stats.gov.my/result.php?token=4931ab32afdc9b779306ea57fc3c0c43

http://www.utusangroup.com.my/

http://blog.limkitsiang.com/2012/03/06/how-effective-has-the-enforcement-of-the-whistleblower-protection-act-2010wpa-been-in-malaysia/

http://www.digitalnewsasia.com/digital-economy/govt-stealthily-gazettes-evidence-act-amendment-law-is-now-in-operation#sthash.Q4iumwkv.dpuf

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/42937-selangor-to-have-freedom-of-information-enactment

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/firm-sues-the-edge-for-rm100-million-wants-sources-revealed

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2007/7/20/malaysian-blogger-disputes-arrest-one-week/)

http://z3.invisionfree.com/Malaysia_Today/index.php?showtopic=2813

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/287113

https://www.facebook.com/hannah.yeoh.5/posts/10152693815092333

www.selangorkini.com.my

www.tvselangor.com

www.selangor.gov.my