[Thailand] Nation troops to polls as media remain hobbled by repressive laws

In the days leading to Thailand’s first general election after five years of junta’s rule, Thai media have been under pressure from the public to help ensure a free and fair election while having to contend with by newly enforced laws and regulations.

Fearful of breaching the new laws enforced by the military regime, the Thai media have become less intrepid in their reporting, while the electorate is left with inadequate information that they need to make an informed choice.

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From Le Minh The's Facebook

[Vietnam] Facebook posts critical of cybersecurity law land activist two years in jail

Activist Le Minh The was sentenced Wednesday, 20 March 2019, to two years in prison for “abusing democratic freedom rights to infringe upon the interests of the state and on the legitimate rights and interests or organisations and citizens” under the Article 331 of the 2015 Penal Code. This development came about during his trial in southern Can Tho province, according to news reports. 

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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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Facebook photo: Bird Sanctuary sues Siem Reap journalist over allegedly false information

[Cambodia] Siem Reap tourism association sues journalist over ‘false information’

A Siem Reap tourism association has filed a court complaint against the publisher of a one-man digital news outlet, claiming it was spreading false information about the Boeng Pearaing bird sanctuary.

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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] Gov’t, media can’t play fast, loose with due process and rule of law

Several journalists and media organizations express grave concern about the likely breach of professional ethics and adverse legal implications of the publication and broadcast of the Duterte Administration’s list of public officials allegedly involved in the illegal-drugs trade.

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Swe Win. Source: Karen News

[Myanmar] Drop defamation charges against journalist Ko Swe Win and repeal Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law

Myanmar authorities must drop the case against Ko Swe Win and take concrete steps to repeal Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, 77 organisations said in a joint statement today.

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[Singapore] Activist in hot water for posting photo; alleged offense tantamount to ‘illegal assembly’

For posting a photo of himself holding a sign supportive of two fellow Singaporeans charged with criminal defamation, civil rights activist Jolovan Wham is under police investigation for another “illegal assembly.”

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

[Thailand] Court rules in favor of Voice TV

The Central Administrative Court of Thailand has granted Voice TV’s petition to junk the 15-day suspension order imposed on it by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on 12 February 2019.

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[Thailand] SEAPA stands behind Voice TV; urges court to uphold international norms on press freedom and free expression

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) stands solidly behind, and is unwavering in its support for, Voice TV in the latter’s effort to assert its right to press freedom, particularly in the midst of the difficult situation where it finds itself anew, having been slapped with another suspension order.

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[Myanmar] Violence against Kachin-based journalists deplorable; police must punish the perpetrators —SEAPA

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) echoes the calls of Myanmar Journalist Network (MJN) and Myanmar Press Council to investigate a mining company based in Waingmaw, Kachin that allegedly detained and assaulted local journalists over the latter’s reports on the environmental and social impact of the firm’s banana plantation operations. 

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Statement of the Myanmar Press Council on the incident

[Myanmar] Journalist community condemns attack against Myitkyina Journal reporters, calls to hold perpetrators accountable

On 26 February, two journalists from Myitkyina Journal – based on Myitkyina Kachin State – were forcibly taken by the personnel of the Tha Khin Sit company at its premises. Then, a female journalist was slapped and her male colleague was forced to do sit-ups several times; they also threatened both journalists not to write anything about the mining company. 

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[Vietnam] With new cyber law in place, takedown of online report on plastic pollution a portent of more online crackdowns?

An online report on marine pollution in the coasts of Vietnam, taken down two days ago, remains inaccessible, and raises the specter of intensified crackdown on online media less than two months since a new cyber security law came into force. 

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