Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 26
Political Influences: 27
Economic Pressures: 18
Total Score: 71
Life Expectancy: 73
Religious Groups: Muslim, Buddhist, Daoist, Hindu, other
Ethnic Groups: Malay and other indigenous (58 percent), Chinese (27 percent), Indian (8 percent), other (7 percent)
Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Limitations on freedom of expression are permitted by the constitution, and the media remained sharply constrained by legal restrictions and official intimidation in 2002. The Printing Presses and Publications Act requires all publishers and printing firms to obtain an annual permit to operate, which can be withdrawn without judicial review. Some pro-opposition media outlets have been shut down. The Official Secrets Act, the Sedition Act, and the Broadcasting Act also impose wide restrictions on freedom of expression. Businessmen and companies close to the ruling coalition own most major newspapers, and political news coverage and editorials strongly support the government line. Government pressure was suspected when more than 40 journalists were laid off or resigned from The Sun newspaper after it published a politically sensitive story in December 2001. Authorities have also increased official pressure on Malaysiakini.com, an online news daily. Foreign publications are subject to censorship, and issues containing critical articles are frequently delayed. State-run Radio Television Malaysia and the two private television stations offer flattering coverage of the government and rarely air opposition views. Many journalists practice self-censorship. Journalist Hishamuddin Rais, who was detained under the Internal Security Act in 2001, remains incarcerated.
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