Investigating Chilling Effects: News Media and Public Speech in Malaysia, Singapore and Australia

Andrew T. Kenyon


News media in Malaysia and Singapore are often said to be constrained in covering political and public issues, in comparison with plural democratic states such as Australia. However, commentary also suggests that online communications are allowing more independent speech. This article investigates whether such restrictions and changes online can be seen. Through analyzing media content, it illustrates factors relevant to the concept of a “chilling effect” on public speech, including matters of law, media ownership, journalistic practices, and civil society. While news is constrained in Malaysia and Singapore, it seems that online media can be less limited. Rather than the Internet itself being decisive, however, it is the extent of civil society and political opposition that appear more significant.

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