PETALING JAYA - Malaysia is ranked 29th among 40 countries in the Asia-Pacific region in the Freedom of the Press 2012 report.
The report was released by US-based think tank Freedom House in conjunction with World Press Freedom Day on Thursday.
The ranking puts Malaysia below neighbouring countries like the Philippines (ranked 21), Indonesia (22), and Thailand (28), but above Singapore (32), Brunei (35) and Laos (36).
Malaysia has climbed two places in the ranking but the press here is still categorised as "not safe".
The Freedom of the Press index assesses the degree of press freedom in countries worldwide through the examination of the legal, political and economical influences on their press.
Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) executive director Masjaliza Hamzah said one of the reasons that the Malaysian press might be categorised "not safe" is because the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA) had not been amended yet last year.
"Last year, the Home Minister still had the absolute discretion to approve, remove, renew or impose conditions on licences given to the print media," said Masjaliza.
She added that ownership of some media houses by politically-linked businesses and press censorship could be other reasons why the Malaysian press is deemed "not free".
National Union of Journalists Malaysia general secretary V. Anbalagan said media organisations in Malaysia have to open up to compete with alternative media which can be easily accessed.