Media under siege in Southeast Asia
Editorial, The Nation
Latest rankings for press freedom leave Thailand and all other Asean countries with nothing to shout about.
The annual Press Freedom Index for 2009, released earlier this month by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), makes for disturbing reading for the Asean region. People in Southeast Asia must ask if we’re sacrificing long-term democracy and freedom for short-term security and stability.
Aside from a glimmer of hope in Indonesia, ranked at 100 out of 175 nations, the rest of the Asean region increasingly resembles a big rotten basket full of repressive regimes and opponents of press freedom.
Burma, ruled by a notorious military junta, ranked near the bottom, at 171 out of 175, in this latest worldwide index. The country is described by RSF as: “[A] paradise for censors, one of the very few countries where all publications are subjected to prior censorship. After China and Cuba, it is the world’s largest prison for journalists and bloggers.”
Thirteen journalists and cyber dissidents are currently imprisoned.
Vietnam, ranked at 166 out of 175, is only relatively better: “Aside from underground dissidents and online publications, Vietnam has no independent media. The written press, television and radio are all under the control of Hanoi.”
Despite an acknowledgement that some efforts are being made to roll back censorship there, RSF noted that a dozen journalists and cyber dissidents are in jail. Continue reading “Media under siege in Southeast Asia”
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