KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 — The government will study proposals by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) regarding appropriate measures to improve Malaysia’s position in the World Press Freedom Index, said Fahmi Fadzil.

The Communications Minister said he welcomes the readiness of the international non-governmental organisation (NGO) to collaborate with Malaysia.

“We may not necessarily accept their proposals outright but will thoroughly review and see what is suitable for Malaysia,” he told a press conference after opening the International Regulatory Conference (IRC) 2024 here today.

The World Press Freedom Index 2024 report released by RSF last Friday showed Malaysia’s ranking dropping 34 spots compared to its 73rd position last year, with a score of 52.07 points.


Fahmi said although he accepts the report in good faith, it should not be regarded as the golden standard in determining the level of media freedom in the country.

Fahmi said the World Press Freedom Index issue concerned not only the Communications Ministry but also laws under several other ministries.

“For example, issues related to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community. We know Malaysia’s stance on this issue and the suitability of some matters within the Asean mould or Eastern customs,” he said.


He also slammed a statement by Bersatu supreme council member Datuk Wan Saiful Wan Jan comparing Malaysia’s position with Israel in the index.

“Unlike Israel, we don’t kill people like what is happening in Gaza. We also don’t shut down any media outlets like what happened yesterday when Israel shut down and searched Al Jazeera’s office,” he said.

Regarding the issue of people using images of His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, in the Kuala Kubu Baharu by-election campaign, Fahmi said Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) have confirmed it is not part of both parties’ campaigns.

“The individuals involved have been arrested, so we leave it to the police to investigate. If an offence was committed, the Attorney General’s Chambers can bring the case to court. So, we follow that procedure,” he said.

According to media reports, two individuals have been arrested for displaying the King’s photographs on a vehicle used in the election campaign.

At the same time, Fahmi said the government is actively drafting laws to address online safety including online scams and fraud, sexual-related offences and hate speech, while leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance online safety through the development of an AI Portal.

On IRC 2024, the minister said that the input from regulators and subject matter experts at the conference will be vital to ensure that the communication and multimedia sector continues to thrive and shape a future where the digital ecosystem remains a driving force for connectivity and innovation.

At the press conference later, Fahmi said that through that conference, Malaysia could learn about the issues faced by other countries and the regulatory aspects implemented.

“My hope with the IRC is that, first, we can implement it regularly. Second, as a result of these discussions, there may be some steps or strategies that we can consider and if they are suitable for the situation in Malaysia, they can be implemented,” he said.

He said his ministry will also consider the suitability of proposing the IRC to the Asean Secretariat to be included in next year’s event calendar when Malaysia takes over the chairmanship of the regional bloc.

“For the Ministry of Communications, we have indeed proposed a number of events involving our agencies including the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS), Bernama (Malaysian National News Agency), and others.

“At the Asean level, there are certain forums that gather regulatory bodies, ministers overseeing information and digital issues... so I request the ministry to study the outcomes of IRC 2024 and the suitability for us to include them in the Asean calendar,” Fahmi added.

Also present at the event were Deputy Communications Minister Teo Nie Ching and Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, Communications Ministry secretary-general Datuk Mohamad Fauzi Md Isa and MCMC Chairman Tan Sri Mohamed Salim Fateh Din.

The IRC 2024, organised by the MCMC, brings together communications and multimedia experts, including regulators and policymakers, from Asean, Korea, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

A total of 800 participants attended the two-day conference with the theme ‘Aligning Innovation with Safety for a Sustainable Future’, which discussed a myriad of innovations, emerging technologies, regulatory frameworks and approaches within the ambit of the communications and multimedia industry. — Bernama