Malaysia Government and Media
Government Type: Parliamentary democracy with a federal constitutional monarch
Head of the state: King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah
Leader: Prime Minister Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin
Political Party: Coalition consists of the following parties United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Parti Islam Malaysia (PAS), and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) (Muhyiddin Yassin’s Party)
Political Position: Center-Right
World Press Freedom Rank: Malaysia 101/180
In 2018, The Anti-Fake News Act was passed by former prime minister Najib Razak’s government which aimed to tackle “fake news.” On the other hand, critics claimed it was “designed to stifle dissent.”
In 2019, the Anti-Fake News Act bill was repealed by the lower house of Malaysia’s Parliament, and the Anti-Fake News (Repeal) Bill was passed. Reuters reported that Human Rights Watch had welcomed this progress. However, Reporter Without Borders cautions that despite the media environment’s improvement after the defeat of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, still “archaic laws still endure”, and as a result of these old laws, self-censorship is still widespread in Malaysia.
Government Influence on Media: The Media of Malaysia such as broadcast media, print media, and the Internet is controlled by the Malaysian government. Media outlets either are directly owned by the government or by the political parties through complex investments. For example, Media Prima which operates many television stations under Media Prima Television Networks, print publications such as New Straits Times and several radio stations, is a public listed media company that was linked to Umno in 2019. Umno sold the stake to Syed Mokhtar, making him the third-largest shareholder. Syed Mokhtar is a businessman known as Dr.Mahathir’s man (Dr. Mahathir is the former Prime Minister of Malaysia.) In conclusion, the Malaysian Government has direct and indirect control and influence over the media outlets since most of them are owned and financed through the government and political parties through a complex web of companies and investments.