10 May 2012

Micronesian countries top Asia/Pacific press freedo index

11:07 am on 10 May 2012

The Freedom House annual press freedom report has listed Palau and the Marshall Islands at the top of 40 nations in the Asia/Pacific region in media freedom.

The Federated States of Micronesia comes in at number five.

A former Pacific Magazine publisher Floyd Takeuchi says history has shown that media freedom is central to the development of democratic institutions in all three of the independent nations in the Western Pacific.

Mr Takeuchi says in his view, the impact of newspapers in the Micronesian region is greater today than it was in the 1970s.

Francis Hezel, an American Jesuit priest who in the 1970s founded the Micronesian Seminar think tank, says the most important factor for governments in the north Pacific to support media freedom is the reputation of the government itself.

He says to withhold public information would needlessly tarnish the governments in the eyes of the United States and the world.