Journalists in the region, except those covering ASEAN meetings, are not well aware of the regional group’s history and impact on national foreign policies. To understand the region at the time of transition (expansion and integration, leadership changes and social and economic transformation), it is important that journalists understand the significance of this integration at both political and economic levels. Over the past decade, ASEAN has expanded from six to ten countries with diverse political social and economic backgrounds. This rapid expansion has both constructive and negative consequences.The 2002 Journalism Fellowship will take stock of recent regional developments, in particular, the ASEAN government’s response to the US-led global anti-terrorism campaign following the September 11 incident. It sets the stage for discussions on the stability of the ASEAN governments, in the wider context of freedom of expression and media freedom.
The 2002 SEAPA Fellows
Anucha Charoenpo covers cross border issues for the Bangkok Post, the Thailand’s English-language local daily. During the fellowship program, he chose to go to Indonesia’s Medan to discover how thriving Thai illegal fishing business is there. Through his interviews with various stakeholders including officials in Jakarta and Medan and local fishermen and Thai and Indonesian fishing company officials, he discovered why Indonesia tolerates illegal fishing by foreign poachers especially the Thai. Corrupted officials, local marine police and navy fishing colluded with illegal fishing companies to forgo hefty fishing license and tax in return for bribes. This illegal business not only threatens the Indonesian economy but also local fishermen who were robbed their means of living. Legal Thai fishermen too suffered from this illegal business.
Article: Something Fishy in Sumatra
Coen Husain Pontoh is Indonesian journalist. He wrote this story based on his research on Media situation in Philippines and his interview with Fathur Rohman Al-Ghozi, an Indonesia convicted of possessing firearms in Philippines. Pontoh also traced back to his family background in Indonesia. He went to cover the story in Philippine in June under SEAPA Fellowship Program. The same story was published in Indonesian-language Pantau Magazine where he works for.
Article: From Madiun to the World Headlines
Miriam Grace A. Go, a senior political writer of Philippines’ Newsbreak Magazine spent six weeks in Thailand since May 13, 2002 on 2002 SEAPA Fellowship Program. She last month discovered several factors that made Thailand’s first trial of the party-list ballot, modeled after Philippines succeeded in the 1999 general election. Both systems shared the same objectives-to encourage people to vote for parties based on their program of government and track record and to open doors to more qualified individuals, enlisted by the parties, who do not have the money and the personal connections to make him win in locality-based elections. Nevertheless, Philippines’ party-list system elections in 1998 and 2001 failed. In 1998 ballot, a fourth of the 52 party-list seats in the House of Representatives was filled in. In 2001, the results were more tragic: only seven of the 52 seats have been filled so far. 8 of the 11 winning groups were belatedly disqualified by the Supreme Court. “I hoped my story could help lesson communities in Philippines as they are struggling to find ways to improve the system before next election due in 2004. Some time Filipino officials are arrogant, trying to avoid learning lessons from the neighbors. But my point is if it (party-list system) could work well in Thailand, why not in Philippines?”, she said.
Article: Democracy and the Media
Yasmin Lee Arpon, national news editor of abs-cbnnews.com, the 24-hour online news service of Philippines’ largest television network. “At first I wanted to focus on the role of women in Buddhism. As I digged into it, I was also mesmerized by Thai society talked aloud about corruption and sex scandals involving Thai monks,” Yasmin said. “I found these scandals similar to those rocked the Catholic Church in my country. So I wanted to find out how the Thai society and its people react to this situation,” she said. As a Catholic, Yams admitted she was so excited to get a first glimpse of how Buddhists praxis their religion.