PETALING JAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) has congratulated the media after Malaysia jumped up 22 places in the latest World Press Freedom Index.
The Prime Minister took to Instagram to express his appreciation over the country's improved ranking.
"In conjunction with #WorldPressFreedomDay, I take this opportunity to commend the Malaysian media on its improved ranking in the World Press Freedom index.
"We jumped 22 places to be the top in South-East Asia and 123rd in the world (out of 180 countries).
"Thank you and congratulations," he posted on Instagram on World Press Freedom Day, which falls on Friday (May 3).
The post was accompanied by several pictures of him being interviewed and photographed by Malaysian media personnel.
The press freedom index, however, does not rank the media but the country, taking into account factors such as whether its government has allowed media freedom to thrive.
The World Press Freedom Index showed that Malaysia is tops among South-East Asian countries such as Indonesia (124), Philippines (134), Thailand (136), Myanmar (138), Cambodia (143), Singapore (151), Brunei (152), Laos (171) and Vietnam (176).
The latest index, released on April 18, is compiled by the Paris-based organisation Reporters without Borders (RSF).
RSF had said in its report that press freedom received a breath of fresh air in Malaysia after Barisan Nasional lost the general election in May last year.
They had said the journalists and media outlets that were previously blacklisted, such as cartoonist Zunar and the Sarawak Report news portal, were now able to resume working without fear of harassment.
They added, however, there were still draconian laws that could be used to suppress media freedom that the government has yet to repeal.
These laws include the 1948 Sedition Act, the 1972 Official Secrets Act and the 1998 Communications and Multimedia Act.
Malaysia jumps up 22 places in latest Press Freedom index