Representatives of seven major parties in the Thai general elections participate at the Thai PBS Debate on 15 March 2019.

[Thailand] From Hope to Ballot: The Advance Vote

In a remarkable expression of their faith in democracy, eighty-seven percent of Thai voters registered for advance voting turned out to vote. Advance Voting Day remained peaceful and orderly but punctuated by instances of mismanagement, inconsistencies in the application of electoral rules by polling staff, and complaints of inadequate voter education and information in particular to voters and political parties. While the Advance Voting Day establishes the preparedness of the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT), it has provided the Commission an opportunity to immediately take measures to rectify the management issues reported by election stakeholders.

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A story from Jurnalis Perempuan Meliput Indonesia: 50 Kisah di Balik Berita (Women Journalists Cover Indonesia: 50 Stories Behind the News)

[Indonesia] The Power of Compassion in Disaster Reporting

Alongside children, women are especially vulnerable to disasters. This does not mean they are weak. Women are in fact strong given their varied roles, especially in times of calamity.

As a journalist, I make it a priority to focus on these two sectors when covering disasters to shine a light on their plight while showing their fortitude.

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Residents of Cavalima whose land will be used for the Tasi Mane petroleum infrastructure project in Camanasa, Timor-Leste, Jan. 10, 2019 /Credit: Bernardo Da Costa Maia

[Timor-Leste] Voices: Tasi Mane Petroleum Project Brings Concern, Optimism to Southern Coast

In a January 2019 reporting trip, Radio Rakambia discovered that the government has compensated some people while others have not been paid. It hasn’t been indicated where the farmers can move to. The people of Suai have appealed to the government to establish good conditions for resettlement so that they can raise their animals and plant their plants.

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[Regional] Southeast Asia’s draconian cyber laws: In the name of ‘national security’, so say states

Laws regulating how people use the internet must never serve as tools to control and silence critical and independent voices. Yet this is the stark reality in much of Southeast Asia today.

In a region where authoritarianism is on the rise, these laws have conveniently become the state’s weapon to restrict freedoms of expression and information, and penalize dissent.

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[Philippines] 360: The changing mountain calendar in Sagada

This 360-degree takes you to this picturesque community whose harvest is now in peril, allowing you to immerse in its plight and culture. As it plays, watch the scenes come alive on your device. Swipe back and forth, move up and down, or rotate the video’s perspective to watch it from all angles. You can also get a virtual reality (VR) viewer or headset, look inside, and feel like you are actually in the scene.

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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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Ban Mai is one of the most affected villages by Xe Pian-Xe Nam Noy dam collapsed in July. The Lao government estimates losses at more than US$15 million alone in this village / Credit: Visarut Sankham

[Laos] Compensation talks begin for dam disaster victims

More than 7,000 survivors of the disastrous collapse of the hydropower dam in southern Laos’ Sanamxay district have been struggling to survive for nearly seven months.

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Photo by Pratch Rujivanarom

[Laos] Survivors of dam collapse battle dengue, malnutrition

Six months after the collapse of the Xe Pian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam in southern Laos triggered floods that swept them from their homes, survivors are now suffering from dengue fever and malnutrition.

Those health challenges come despite firm agreements between local and international health agencies to work together to prevent disease and otherwise attend to the needs of the displaced.

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Hin Lath school, where Chang attended, was destroyed by the dam collapse. He now has to travel at least three hours return to attend school in the city / Credit: Visarut Sankham

[Laos] The deadly wave that changed everything

Flash floods following the collapse of the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy dam in southern Laos washed away the homes, families, hope and dreams of dozens of villagers living downstream. This is one of their stories.

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A field of newly transplanted Virginia tobacco in Barangay Anei, Claveria, Misamis Oriental. The production of these plants plummeted to only a million kilograms in 2018 as only 336 farmers planted the crop in 436.21 hectares, down from 2.5 million in 2017 with 1,117 farmers who grew the variety in 1,387 hectares. Photo by LSReyes

[Philippines] Images of women absent from posters on safe tobacco growing

Researchers in a Brazil-based study in a tobacco-growing community pointed out that women are primary study subjects on the health and environmental impacts of tobacco production because of  “their role in tobacco production, combined with their essential role in caring for the family, especially related to health.’’

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[Philippines] Environment, health impacts awareness factor in tobacco production nosedive

Done in 2016, three years after tobacco’s commercial cultivation began here, the study, which profiled women farmers, including the knowledge, perceptions and practices of women working in tobacco farms in Claveria. Among its findings is that 90 percent of the women workers were aware of the health impacts of cultivating the plant.

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Court order lifts temporary ban against Voice TV

[Thailand] SEAPA lauds court’s decision lifting Voice TV ban; says it ‘gives grounds for hope’

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) welcomes the decision of the Thai court allowing Voice TV to resume its broadcast operations after initially being suspended for 15 days.

The Central Administrative Court handed down the decision on Friday, 15 February 2019, effectively lifting the temporary ban imposed by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on the digital TV broadcaster on 12 February 2019.

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Protesters against sand mining on the Ayeyarwady River in Shwedaung Township, Bago Region on Jan. 16, 2019. Photo: Thuya Zaw

[Myanmar] Ayeyarwady river at risk from rampant sand mining

Since 2010, a construction boom in Myanmar has fueled a sharp increase in the extraction of sand from the Ayeyarwady that is then used in cement and asphalt. Environmental groups say this dredging is destabilizing the river and placing stress on the Ayeyarwady Delta, the country’s main rice producing region. Experts warn that the rate of sand mining in the Ayeyarwady has already reached an unsustainable level and is projected to increase as development continues.

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[Philippines] Romancing storms, worms and leaves: Growing ‘batek’ in the shadow of environmental perils

The farmers continue to use insecticides whose active ingredients, Gold Star Daily has learned, are listed as hazardous by World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International. PAN uses the definition of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of hazardous pesticides as “those linked with a high incidence of severe or irreversible adverse effects on human health or the environment.”

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Photo by DZUP

[Philippines] Fact-checking initiative launched ahead of May mid-term elections

Tsek.ph aims to verify “platforms and campaign promises of candidates; statements and remarks made by candidates, personalities, government agencies, and other entities; and election-related posts on social media, blogs and other platforms.”

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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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