Weekly Media Roundup (1 – 7 September 2018)

Here are some of the press freedom- and free expression-related events and issues you might have missed last week: 

 

Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) 

Statements: 

[Myanmar] 

SEAPA statement on the conviction and 7-year sentence of Reuters journalists

See also: 

Indonesian journalists stage rally to demand release of Reuters’ Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo

Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI, Alliance of Independent Journalists) Indonesia: Indonesia’s Alliance of Journalists Condemns Jail Sentence of Reuters Reporters

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): (Statement) NUJP condemns jailing of Reuters journalists

 

Reports: 

[Philippines] Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ). “PEOPLE, PAPER BEHIND PCIJ’S REPORT | Contractors: Candor from a few, thunderous silence from the rest” 

 

IFEX. “Freedom and Fury: Tep Vanny, ‘Fake News’ law repealed, students protest, Google in China and genocide in Burma” 

 

General news 

Columbia Journalism Review (CJR): “Facebook now linked to violence in the Philippines, Libya, Germany, Myanmar, and India” 

“Some would argue Facebook isn’t to blame for this any more than the phone company is. But social networks have allowed this problem to metastasize, and they reach orders of magnitude more people than would ever have been possible before. At what point does that become a social issue worth regulating? That’s likely to become a subject of discussion at this week’s Congressional hearings, where Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will be testifying before the Senate intelligence committee.” 

 

Southeast Asia 

The Diplomat: “Environmental Defenders Under Pressure Across Southeast Asia” 

“According to Global Witness, the body count represents only the extreme end of a spectrum of repressive tactics used to silence land defenders, including death threats, arrests, intimidation, cyberattacks, sexual assault and lawsuits.” 

 

South China Morning Post: “How cybersecurity and data storage laws could pull the plug on Southeast Asia’s digital economy” 

“Despite the inherent benefits of digital technologies and the internet, many governments are pursuing policies that will limit the use of these technologies. Driven by pressure to address specific and immediate challenges including cybersecurity, data protection, privacy and misinformation, governments fail to consider the long-term impact of these laws on economic growth, jobs and investment.” 

 

Indonesia 

The Jakarta Post: “Police search for more evidence in alleged defamation of Jokowi in Bangka” 

“Bangka Belitung Islands Police continue to gather more evidence in their investigation into alleged defamation against President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo, which implicates at least two underage boys … Both FZ and SD are charged with online defamation under Article 27, Paragraph 3 of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law, which carries a maximum sentence of four years behind bars.” 

 

The Interpreter: “Lessons of yet another Indonesian blasphemy case” 

“The Meliana case also underscores another disturbing development in Indonesia: the extent to which local ulama councils (majelis ulama Indonesia, MUI) have acquired political power to the point that some officials treat their opinions (fatwa) as tantamount to law. The judges in her case cited a 24 January 2017 ruling of the North Sumatra MUI, stating that Meilania’s actions had been blasphemous, as evidence, rather than assessing the case solely on its legal merits.” 

 

The Jakarta Post: “(Editorial) Stop, in the name of free speech” 

“The police crackdown on the movement to unseat President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo, through the use of the hashtag #GantiPresiden2019 (Change President 2019), may be intended to shield him, but the police are doing a great disservice to their President and to the nation. If they are not careful, their actions could contribute to his defeat in the April 2019 election…. The bans on meetings of the hashtag proponents in several cities in Indonesia in the past week are already being portrayed, at home and abroad, as suppressing free speech. As far as freedom of expression, and hence our democracy, is concerned, this is nothing but a huge setback.” 

 

Malaysia 

TODAY: “Putrajaya mulls capping share ownership in media firms” 

“The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government is considering restructuring the ownership structure of Malaysian mainstream media companies by limiting the shareholding of political parties and other entities, including private companies, organisations or individuals to 10 per cent, said sources…. The move is in line with Putrajaya’s pledge to reform and accord greater freedom to the media.” 

See also: 

New Straits Times: “Many people trying to control the media, says Dr M” 

Nikkei Asian Review: “Mahathir moves to free Malaysian media from political parties” 

 

The Star Online: “Khalid Samad settles defamatory suit with NST, BH over Act 355 issue” 

“Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad’s defamation suit against Berita Harian Group editor-in-chief Datuk Mahfar Ali and three others over the proposed amendment to the Federal Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355) has reached a settlement…. Khalid’s counsel Faiz Fadzil, who is also Permatang Pasir assemblyman, told reporters that the suit had been settled after a meeting High Court Judicial Commissioner Aliza Sulaiman in chambers.” 

See also: 

Malay Mail: “Khalid Samad settles defamation suit against NSTP” 

 

International Press Institute (IPI): “Expectations of press freedom rise in Malaysia” 

“Having repealed the Anti-Fake News Act, the government will now have to prioritize a review of all laws restricting the press, and replace those that do not meet international standards, should the country wish to be taken seriously as a democracy.” 

 

The Star: “The importance of having Freedom of Information laws” 

“But the government might soon become more transparent, thanks to the proposed Freedom of Information Act. If it goes through, Malaysia will join 111 countries that have Freedom of Information laws, which empower their citizens to seek and receive information from the government.” 

 

Myanmar 

Reuters: “Myanmar judge jails Reuters reporters for seven years in landmark secrets case” 

“A Myanmar judge on Monday (3 September 2018) found two Reuters journalists guilty of breaching a law on state secrets and sentenced them to seven years in prison, in a landmark case seen as a test of progress towards democracy in the Southeast Asian country…. Yangon northern district judge Ye Lwin said Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, breached the colonial-era Official Secrets Act when they collected and obtained confidential documents.” 

See also: 

Wives of Reuters reporters jailed in Myanmar call for their release” ; “Myanmar verdict a ‘major step backward’, says Reuters’ Adler” ; “Factbox: Reactions to verdict on Reuters’ Myanmar journalists” ; “Demonstrators call on Myanmar to release Reuters journalists” 

Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB): “Judge convicts Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo under Official Secrets Act” 

The Irrawaddy: “Specials | Reuters Case Timeline” ; “Local Condemnation for Reuters Journalists’ Verdict” ; “Jailed Whistleblower Concerned Truth Will Continue to be Covered Up” ; “Jailed Reporters’ Wives Hope Against Hope for Presidential Pardon” 

Frontier Myanmar. “‘We won’t stay silent’: civic groups plan fightback against jailing of reporters” ; “Youth march through Yangon to demand release of Reuters journalists” ; “After election, press council members target law reform” 

Myanmar Times: “Reporters’ jail sentence draws criticism” 

The Nation. “Ruling against Reuters reporters severe blow to Myanmar press freedom: CAJ president” 

The Jakarta Post. “Around the region: SEAPA, AJI condemn jailing of journalists” ; “Indonesian journalists demand release of Reuters journos” 

Asian Correspondent. “Burma: Journalists’ ‘hammer blow’ guilty verdict could spell end of democracy” 

South China Morning Post: “‘A sad day for Myanmar’ as judge jails Reuters journalists for seven years” 

The Guardian. “Myanmar: Reuters reporters investigating Rohingya crisis jailed for seven years” 

The New York Times: “Myanmar Sentences Reuters Journalists to 7 Years in Prison” 

CNN: “Wives make plea to Aung San Suu Kyi for jailed Myanmar journalists” 

BBC: “Myanmar’s jailed reporters and Suu Kyi’s silence” 

 

Reuters: “Facebook removes Burmese translation feature after Reuters report” 

“Facebook has removed a feature that allowed users to translate Burmese posts and comments after a Reuters report showed the tool was producing bizarre results…. A Reuters investigation published on August 15 documented how Facebook was failing in its efforts to combat vitriolic Burmese language posts about Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims. Some 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar over the past year amid a military crackdown and ethnic violence. In late August, United Nations investigators said Facebook had been ‘a useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate’ against the Muslim minority group.” 

 

Philippines 

BuzzFeed News: “How Duterte Used Facebook To Fuel the Philippine Drug War” 

“If you want to know what happens to a country that has opened itself entirely to Facebook, look to the Philippines. What happened there — what continues to happen there — is both an origin story for the weaponization of social media and a peek at its dystopian future. It’s a society where, increasingly, the truth no longer matters, propaganda is ubiquitous, and lives are wrecked and people die as a result — half a world away from the Silicon Valley engineers who’d promised to connect their world.” 

See also: 

select/all: “Facebook Used the Philippines to Test Free Internet. Then a Dictator Was Elected.” 

The ASEAN Post: “The dark side of blogging” 

 

Thailand 

The Nation: “Third time lucky for Waen’s bail application” 

“A key witness in the 2010 killings of protesters at Pathum Wanaram Temple was yesterday (3 September 2018) released from prison after nearly four years of detention over alleged terrorism and lese majeste charges…. Natthathida Meewangpla was freed on combined bail of Bt900,000 for the two cases on condition that she does not leave the country unless permitted by a military court. Her two previous bail applications had been rejected.” 

See also: 

Khaosod English: “Nurse who witnessed temple slaughter freed on bail” 

 

TechCrunch: “Thailand is becoming a critical country for blockchain” 

“Since the start of the year, the Thai government has become increasingly outspoken and welcoming of cryptocurrency projects and exchanges. In just a few months, Thai regulators have made notable progress, from setting up cryptocurrency company licenses to permitting exchanges and ICOs. More importantly, the country has attracted foreign companies by providing clear and explicit guidelines for foreign blockchain companies to operate. It’s a pattern that we are seeing across Southeast Asia, and one that blockchain and cryptocurrency startup founders should take note as they think about global expansion.” 

See also: 

Cryptocurrency356.com: “Thailand Becoming a Crypto Hub in Southeast Asia” 

 

Vietnam 

eQualitie. “News From Deflect Labs: DDoS attacks against Vietnamese Civil Society” 

“We identified 10 different DDoS attacks targeting two Vietnamese websites protected by Deflect, viettan.org and baotiengdan.com, between the 17th of April and 15th of June 2018. These attacks happened in the context of an important lack of Internet Freedom in Vietnam with regular online attacks against activists and independent media.” 

 

NOTE 

All information and materials in this roundup are for general information and use only and do not constitute any advice or recommendation. 

All information and materials in this roundup are provided in good faith. Except for the information produced by SEAPA, we are not responsible for the contents or reliability of linked websites and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them. We have no control over availability of the linked websites.

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