Taiwan ranked 47th in the world in terms of press freedom and first in Asia last year, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), a press freedom watchdog body.
Although Taiwan fell two places from the previous year in the global rankings, it remained at the top in the region, ahead of South Korea in 50th place and Japan at 53rd.
Japan dropped from 22nd to 53rd globally, mainly due to a lack of transparency and access to information directly or indirectly related to an accident at its Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in 2011, the report said.
Hong Kong and Singapore were ranked 58th and 149th respectively.
Benjamin Ismail, head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific Desk, said the watchdog was concerned about the protests in Taiwan last year against the Want Want China Times Group’s (旺旺中時集團) bid to buy into another media group.
Malaysia dropped 23 places to its lowest position ever because access to information is becoming more and more limited there, the report said.
Cambodia was ranked 143rd, plunging 26 places because of its increasing authoritarianism and censorship, the report said. North Korea (178th), China (173rd), Vietnam (172nd) and Laos (168th), all ruled by authoritarian parties, still refused to grant their citizens the freedom to be informed, the RSF report said.
The control of news and information is a key issue for these governments, which fear being open to criticism, it said.
In Vietnam and China, those involved in online news and information, such as bloggers and netizens, are forced to deal with increasingly harsh repression, RSF said in the report.
It said many Tibetan monks have been convicted or abducted for having sent information abroad about the state of human rights in Tibet.