Oct 16, 2006

Press is free but self-censors: Pak Lah

Oh is it?

Extracted from MalaysiaKini
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has denied that the media is tightly controlled, but admitted the local press practices self-censorship.

"It is not very, it is not tightly controlled. The Malaysian press have freedom," Abdullah said in interview with the US news channel CNN aired late Saturday.

"They also have a role to what I call self-censorship. The main press (practises) self-censor but ... other little ones ... print all sorts of things," he added.

Abdullah was responding to questions on control of the media in democratic Malaysia.

Press freedom body Reporters Sans Frontieres last year ranked Malaysia 113th out of 167 countries on its annual World Press Freedom Index.

But Abdullah said there cannot be absolute media freedom.

"I want to say there is no such thing as absolute freedom. The degree of freedom that one exercises varies from one country to another. This is the truth," he said.

Mistrust and tension

Abdullah said total freedom of the media could lead to mistrust and tension in society.

"What happens is, for example, you remember the caricature of Prophet Mohammad? ... You see how the Muslims feel about it. If I have the same thing here in Malaysia, my God, you know what is going to happen," he added.

The publication in September last year of 12 caricatures of Mohammed by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten sparked outrage and weeks of violent protests throughout the Muslim world, leading to several deaths.

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