[Singapore] SEAPA appeals to Singapore government to recall anti-falsehood draft law

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) echoes the concerns raised by other press freedom and free expression advocates across the globe on this draconian bill that, inter alia, grants overarching powers to state authorities in combating disinformation, potentially leaving its citizens, particularly the media, in an even more precarious state once a new law of this kind comes into force.

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[Philippines] Well-known journalist forays into politics, denies the press is under attack

The Philippines remains one of the most dangerous places for journalists. To date there is no dearth of reports on the state of press freedom in the Philippines, and former journalist and now senatorial candidate Jiggy Manicad should be well aware of this.

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Photo by Maung Saungkha.

[Myanmar] Release of Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo a rare triumph of justice — SEAPA

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) hails the release of convicted Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were charged under the 1923 Official Secrets Act.

They were among the 6,520 prisoners pardoned by President Win Myint on Tuesday, 7 May. The two courageous journalists were in a Insein jail for 511 days.

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[Vietnam] Open Letter to Facebook: Don’t Give in to Censorship

With over 64 million Facebook users and not a single independent newspaper in Vietnam, Facebook is where Vietnamese go “to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.” On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, we urge Facebook to abide by this aspiration of its mission statement.

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[Philippines] The State of Media, under Duterte

IN the last 34 months under President Rodrigo R. Duterte, cases and incidents of attacks and threats on the Philippine media continue relentlessly, with hardly any major efforts at investigation or solution by responsible state agencies.To mark World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday, May 3, the “Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network” released its third semestral report on The State of Philippine Media under the Duterte Administration.

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[Philippines] The President and the Press: A Timeline of Hostilities Against the Media

BY ALL indications, President Rodrigo R. Duterte has no love lost for independent and critical media.

In about two dozen times in his 34 months in office, he has openly expressed his displeasure and disaffection, and in rancorous prose called journalists names and foisted threats both veiled and naked against certain media agencies.

In his own words, here’s a timeline of the things that President Duterte has said about the press.

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[Philippines] Just the Facts: Foreign Funding Isn’t the Problem

Sheila Coronel, also one of the founders of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and former board member of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), disputes Roberto Tiglao’s arguments and persistent attacks in the following essay.

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World Press Freedom Day

Political freedom and civil liberties are in a downward spiral globally. Democracy is not only in retreat, but is under assault in Southeast Asia. State-sponsored threats and attacks, internet being weaponized with toxic discourse and false narratives, hate speech and identity politics have favored patrons, caused deep divisions, and targeted vulnerable sectors.

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[Regional] Stand in Solidarity with the Media Community

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day. Stakeholders — youth, women, indigenous peoples, LGBTQI+, lawyers, and governments — share their thoughts on “Why is the media important? Why should the media be free?”

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[Regional] SEAPA Bulletin: World Press Freedom Day 2019

May 3 marks World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), a celebration of media freedom as a basic human right. It is a call for the promotion and protection of free expression around the world and a salute to journalists and media workers who are at risk for upholding the people’s democratic right to information.

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WPFD2019: On World Press Freedom Day, we call for protection of journalists and a free press in Southeast Asia and across the world

Freedom of information and freedom of expression are fundamental rights, and journalists must be permitted to exercise them in order to do their work, including by exposing corruption, criticizing public policy, and illuminating human rights violations, without fear of negative repercussions. A journalist’s work should be secure, safe and supported. On World Press Freedom Day, we call for protection and support of our independent media, from publishers, from the government, and from the public.

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Vietnamese blogger and activist Pham Doan Trang

[Vietnam] The Net as the New ‘Battlefield’

The unique Communist one-party system, combined with a socialist-style free market economy, has created a narrow window of opportunity for non-state and independent media to grow over the years, despite state censorship. For the most part, the Internet in Vietnam is still accessible to the majority of the population. With the use of a virtual private network (VPN) and other methods to jump over the firewall, people have been able to access almost all of the contents of websites the government had blocked. Vietnam has yet to build a Great Firewall like that of China.

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[Timor-Leste] Still Feeling Pressed

Timor-Leste’s ranking in the latest press-freedom index of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) leaped by 11 places from the previous year, but those on the ground do not feel any improvement in the country’s media conditions.

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[Thailand] Some Good News, But Mostly Bad

With still no new government as of early May 2019, free speech in Thailand continues to be restricted by special laws imposed by the military junta, officially known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which seized power from an elected civilian government in May 2014.

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Voice TV chief executive officer Makin Petplai welcomes the court decision for Voice TV to continue broadcast

[Thailand] Broadcaster wins a round

Voice TV is arguably one of the junta’s fiercest critics. Various programs and program hosts of the terrestrial digital station had been previously forced off air on many occasions as well following the 2014 coup in Thailand by the junta, which is more formally known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

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[Singapore] PAP’s Potentially Potent Cyberweapon

Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill (POFMA) is thus likely to be yet another weapon in the PAP government’s arsenal against its critics. It also promises to be a very effective one; while it might be impractical to monitor all online chatter and issue correction or takedown orders in each and every instance, the legislation is worded broadly enough to give government ministers the option of wielding it selectively against particular targets. The Bill also gives ministers the power to exempt anyone they want from the law, and that has triggered fears that the government itself might not be able to be held to account.

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[Philippines] Yet Another Year of Living Dangerously

Although press freedom is constitutionally protected in the Philippines, journalists are nevertheless still among the victims of targeted killings. The number of attacks and threats against media workers and news organizations is in fact even rising — and the efforts to silence and intimidate are also being directed against those voices protective of the press.

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