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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© Ann Wang / courtesy of Reuters

WPFD2019: UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize honors Reuters journalists

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo (Myanmar), who are serving a seven-year prison sentence, share this year’s United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The award ceremony will take place today, 2 May 2019, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, host of this year’s celebration of the World Press Freedom Day.

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WPFD2019: SEAPA to hold forum on World Press Freedom Day in Addis Ababa

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) is joining the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) celebration in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia. The theme of the SEAPA forum, to be held on May 3, is “Toward Constructive Dialogue and Shared Narratives: Exploring Media’s Role in Conflict-Prone Societies.”

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[Regional] Democracy Consolidation in Asia: ‘Renewing Commitment to Uphold and Promote Democracy Together’

Approximately 60 key democracy advocates from across Asia convened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from April 2-3, 2019, at the “Democracy Consolidation in Asia Conference” hosted by the Asia Democracy Network (ADN) and Bersih 2.0 to affirm its commitment to uphold and promote democracy amidst current democracy challenges buffeting the region. 

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[Thailand] Lack of information, voter confusion marred polls —expert panel says

Inadequate voter education and confusion over the new ballot system and assigned polling stations marred the recently concluded Thai election. These were on top of election-related regulations that were stacked against the opposition parties and, among others, heavily curtailed fundamental freedoms such as access to information.

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[Regional] On International Women’s Day, a Sobering Reality for Female Journalists

Threats, intimidation, harassment, and attacks comprise the often hostile (and at times deadly) menagerie of challenges that many journalists face every day. Yet in a world order where discrimination against women is de facto and where fundamental freedoms are more honored in the breach than in the observance, these challenges are all in a day’s work and can be more pervasive and daunting for women journalists.

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[Malaysia] National consultation for a media council concludes in Kuala Lumpur

Organized jointly by the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR), the national consultation on the formation of a national media council tackled the whys and wherefores of setting up a media council in Malaysia, including relevant media issues, and aimed to carve out a road map for its establishment.

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[Malaysia] CIJ, MCCHR launch site for media council national consultation

The Centre for Independent Journalism in Malaysia (CIJ) and the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR) launched today, 22 February 2019 a website (http://msiamediacouncil.website/) to “begin discussions again on establishing a National Media Council of Malaysia.”

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Photo from AJI Indonesia

[Indonesia] National Press Day ‘more ceremonial’ than substantive – AJI

The just concluded Hari Pers Nasional (HPN, or the National Press Day) may have been touted as a celebration of the role of the press in a still largely democratic society like Indonesia, and, as in years past since 1985, was meant to be a meaningful occasion for the entire nation – except that not everyone, let alone some journalist groups, found any reason to celebrate it.

The choice of date, February 9, remains contentious for many, for the historical baggage that it carries.

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Photo by FJPI

[Indonesia] Women journalists tell their stories in new book

Published by Forum Jurnalis Perempuan Indonesia (FJPI, Indonesian Women Journalists Forum), the book, Jurnalis Perempuan Meliput Indonesia: 50 Kisali di Balik Berita (Female Journalists Covering Indonesia: 50 Stories Behind the News), was launched Friday, 8 February 2019, at Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Surabaya, capital city of East Java. The launch coincided with the commemoration of the National Press Day of Indonesia, which is celebrated annually on February 9.

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(L-R) Orapin Yingyongpathana, The Momentum; Chonthicha Jangrew, Democracy Restoration Group; Tanawat  Wongchai, Student Union of Thailand; Prasong Lertratanawisute, ISRA News Agency; Kulachada Chaipipat, formerly of SEAPA

[Thailand] In run-up to next election, media must step up its game — says forum

The event, called “A Public Forum on Election and Media Coverage in Thailand: Challenges and Opportunities for Broadening Public Discourse,” gathered 60 representatives from news organizations, journalists’ groups, and civil society to discuss the role of the media during elections, and the state of its coverage of political issues.

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(L-R) Min Pov, VOD; Norman Goh, Malaysiakini; Karel Jiaan Antonio, ANFREL; Pravit Rojanaphruk, Khaosod English.

[Thailand] Media vital in shaping public discourse during election, says monitoring group

Karel Jiaan Antonio, program officer for campaign and advocacy of the Asian Network for Free Election (ANFREL), said that as election monitors, they recognize the important role of the media during elections in shaping public discourse.

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[Thailand] Media-public forum shines a light on bleak realities of election reporting

Now that the long-awaited national election in Thailand is a certainty, how does the local media fare in the public eye in terms of its coverage of important issues that are relevant to the highly anticipated political exercise?

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[Regional] SEAPA @ 20: Looking back, moving forward amid challenging times for press freedom

For a region at the crux of political changes and transitions, that question proved pivotal. It became the trigger for a collective action – the formation of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) based on a vision forged just months after the APEC meeting, at a regional gathering of Southeast Asian journalists held on 8 November 1998. Two decades later, amid the steady decline of press freedom across the region, SEAPA’s aspiration remains as relevant as ever: A region enjoying free expression and that has a truly independent press. Its mission remains as timely as when it sprang into existence: To promote and protect press freedom in Southeast Asia.

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SEAPA turns 20

[Regional] SEAPA turns 20

As it turns two decades old today, SEAPA remains steadfast amid the ebb and flow of democracy and freedom in the region.

While Southeast Asia’s socio-political and media landscapes have changed, a number of issues confronting the region tend to echo those of the past. Not least of these are the shrinking civic space, poor governance, and the rise of authoritarian populism. The relentless onslaught against the media, now confronted with the disruptive and polarizing impact of new technologies and the declining credibility and public trust — harks back to an era when oppressive states thought nothing of muzzling the proverbial fourth estate.

As SEAPA looks back on its beginnings, it also renews it collective commitment to defend and uphold media freedom, free speech, and the people’s right to know. Together, SEAPA, along with its members, network, and partners, rises to this formidable challenge.

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