Hong Kong has been ranked first in Asia and 18th in the world in a press freedom index compiled for the first time by an international media rights organisation. At 138, the mainland was the worst but one offender among the 139 countries, topped only by North Korea. The territory's world ranking is just one notch below the United States (17), and way above the highest-scoring Asian countries, Japan (28) and Taiwan (35), according to the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans Frontieres). The organisation said press freedom was especially bad in Asia, which contains the other worst offenders - Myanmar, Turkmenistan and Bhutan. 'In the worst-ranked countries, press freedom is a dead letter and independent newspapers do not exist. The only voice heard is of media tightly controlled or monitored by the government,' the organisation said. The index measures the amount of freedom journalists and the media have in each country and efforts made by governments to see that press freedom is respected. It was drawn up by asking journalists, researchers and legal experts to answer 50 questions about press freedom violations. Finland, Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands shared first place. The highest-scoring country outside Europe was Canada, which cames fifth while Britain was ranked 22. Mak Yin-ting, who chairs the Hong Kong Journalists Association, said the mainland being nearly at the bottom of the list was another reason why many people were worried about proposed anti-subversion legislation in Hong Kong as the SAR could be affected by the mainland's definition of press freedom.