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In this study, the authors examined the perception of Malaysian journalists with regard to the role of the media in Malaysian civil society. A total of 182 journalists participated in the study via self-administered survey questionnaires. Results revealed that Malaysian journalists have mixed views on the role of the media in the Malaysian media environment, which is highly regulated by the government. They are highly supportive of the role of the media as “interpreter”, “disseminator”, “analytical-objective”, “mobilizer” compared to the role of media as “watchdog”, in support of the argument that the country’s socio-political environment shapes media environment, which in turn influences how journalists conceive their roles. Education and training background and years in journalism have no significant influence on their views concerning the importance of the role of the media. Implications of these findings are discussed in this study.

Governments and NGOs are beginning to realise that digital strategy means more than posting a document online, but what will it take for these groups to change not just their tools, but their thinking? It won’t be enough to partner with WhatsApp or hire GrumpyCat.

Cases documented by coalition members have included: German surveillance technology being used to assist torture in Bahrain; Malware made in Italy helping the Moroccan and UAE authorities to clamp down on free speech and imprison critics; European companies exporting surveillance software to the government of Turkmenistan, a country notorious for violent repression of dissent. Surveillance technologies used internally in Ethiopia as well as to target the Ethiopian diaspora in Europe and the United States.

Whether in Egypt, Turkey, Venezuela, or quite vividly in Ukraine during the final months of Yanukovych’s rule, a growing number of governments now treat the concept of civil society as a code word for powerful political subversives, usually assumed to be doing the bidding of the West. Power holders often fear NGOs more than they do opposition parties, seeing the former as nimble, technologically-savvy actors capable of activating sudden outbursts of mass protest.

Manifesting this changed perspective, more than 50 countries in recent years have enacted or seriously considered legislative or other restrictions on the ability of NGOs to organize and operate. At the core of many of these efforts are measures to impede or block foreign funding for civil society groups—including administrative and legal obstacles, propaganda campaigns against NGOs that accept foreign funding, and harassment or expulsion of external aid groups offering civil society support.

Why is this happening? In short, because civil society has been making itself felt. The lion’s share of the most significant political upheavals of the past 15 years have come about as the result of assertive citizen activism, starting in Slovakia and Serbia in the late 1990s, continuing through Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Lebanon in the early 2000s, and most recently in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and elsewhere in the Arab world. The nightmare scenario for power holders in many countries has become waking up one morning and learning that thousands of ordinary citizens have gathered in the main square of the capital demanding justice, vowing not to go home until they get it.