Paris-based media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders' (RSF), released its annual Press Freedom Index for the fourth consecutive year.
Published every year for almost two decades, the ranking rates 180 countries and territories based on "the level of pluralism, media independence, self-censorship, legal framework, and transparency," according to RSF.
The results are "calculated from responses to a questionnaire that is completed by experts throughout the world, supported by a qualitative analysis."
Norway has topped, Finland retained its second place, while Denmark moved up two places to round out the top three at the expense of Sweden and the Netherlands, which both dropped a place to fourth and fifth respectively because of an "increase in cyber-harassment."
In Southeast Asia, Malaysia, in 101st position, had the biggest rises in comparison with last year's Index. RSF cited "beneficial effects of changes of government" in the respective nations, as quoted by DW.
The organisation warned on its report that pandemic was "highlighting and amplifying the many crises" already casting a shadow on press freedom.
The outbreak had encouraged some regimes to "take advantage of the fact people are stunned and mobilization has weakened to impose measures that would be impossible to adopt in normal times", RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire told AFP.
Here are the Press Freedom Index of Southeast Asia countries:
101. Malaysia (33.12)
119. Indonesia (36.82)
136. Philippines (43.54)
139. Myanmar (44.77)
140. Thailand (44.94)
144. Cambodia (45.46)
152. Brunei Darussalam (49.65)
158. Singapore (55.23)
172. Laos (64.28)
175. Vietnam (74.71)