WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (10 – 16 February 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)


Joint Statement: Cambodian Journalists’ Continued Imprisonment Unjustified



Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ): “Freedom for Media, Freedom for All


Southeast Asia

Nikkei Asian Review: “Why press freedom is at risk across Southeast Asia

“Hopes for constructive, healthy tension between Southeast Asia’s increasingly authoritarian governments and the media have degenerated into mutual contempt and increasingly naked repression. Indeed, some journalists and bloggers have effectively been designated enemies of the state.”

See also:

Money troubles compound Southeast Asia’s press woes
Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency: “Internet Freedom Rapidly Degrading in Southeast Asia



Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “RSF publishes report on media freedom under attack in Cambodia

“Three months to the day after the arbitrary arrest of two journalists in Phnom Penh, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is publishing a report about the tragic decline in the freedom to inform in Cambodia, where the independent media are now in ruins as a result of constant depredation by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s regime.”

See also:

Khmer Times. “Report: Independent press in ruins
The Phnom Penh Post: “Cambodian journalists start petition to free ex-RFA reporters charged with espionage” ; “Press freedom in ‘tragic decline’: report
Thai PBS: “Four press associations and Cambodian journalists call for release of two ex-RFA reporters


Reuters: “Cambodia parliament adopts lese-majeste law, prompting rights concerns

“Cambodia’s parliament on Wednesday (14 February 2018) unanimously adopted a law that forbids insulting the monarchy as rights groups expressed concern the legislation, in effect in neighboring Thailand, could be used against critics of the government.”

See also:

The Phnom Penh Post: “National Assembly to vote on lèse majesté, constitutional amendments” ; “National Assembly passes lèse majesté law, limits to freedom of association
Voice of America (VOA): “Cambodia Passes Lèse-Majesté Law
Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Cambodia: Legislating New Tools of Repression


The Phnom Penh Post: “Details of ruling party’s five-year plan to minimise opposition revealed

“Cambodia’s ruling party will increase surveillance, shut out any opposition ‘force’ and prevent the spread of information that ‘twists the truth’, according to their five-year political plan, obtained yesterday by The Post.”



The Jakarta Post. “Commentary: House of Representatives waging war against free speech

“Public debate over the controversial provisions in the draft penal code, which has been widely criticized for being anticriticism, is not over yet. Now, out of the blue, lawmakers have just passed a law granting the House of Representatives (DPR) ethics body the power to press charges against those critical of the legislative body and its members.”

See also:

KUHP bill threat to press freedom


The Straits Times: “Jokowi asserts role of press in democracy, poses as journalist to ask tough questions

“Mr Joko (President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo) finds that he himself often has to deal with situations where dozens of journalists ambush him with unexpected questions…. In between his speech to commemorate 2018 National Press Day in Padang, West Sumatra, Joko told the audience that he could face up to 90 journalists in such sudden interviews, during which they take turns to ask him questions, sometimes catching him off guard.”


TEMPO.CO: “Indonesia Holds World`s Highest Number of Mass Media

“Press Council chairman Yosep Adi Prasetyo claimed that Indonesia holds world`s highest number of mass media with 47,000 mass media including print, radio, television and online media.”



The Malaysian Insight: “Fake news law ‘will curb media freedom’

“Malaysia’s proposed fake news law will be used to target non-mainstream media outlets that publish reports not in line with Putrajaya’s views, a lawyer and media groups fear.”

See also:

Malaysiakini: “Anti-fake news law to be tabled to cabinet after CNY


Malay Mail Online: “Amid move to outlaw ‘fake news’, local media to set up press ombudsman

“A group representing the Malaysian press announced today (13 February 2018) it has started work to form a press ombudsman as a way to self-regulate the media…. In a statement, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-IFRA)’s Media Freedom Committee (MFC) Malaysia said it will form a sub-committee to study the issue following discussions with local news editors.”

See also:

Press ombudsman timely but ‘fake news’ not sole target, media watchdogs say
Malaysiakini: “Independent ombudsperson mulled for M’sian media industry


Malay Mail Online. “IGP: Social media misuse due to failure in distinguishing between freedom of expression and democracy

“Social media today is being misused to spread slanderous and seditious news, touching on sensitive issues such as racism, religion, as well as challenging the royal institutions, says Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun…. He said this was because certain social media users sometimes could not distinguish the difference between freedom of expression and democratic principles, or between what is apparent and true, so much so their actions could jeopardise public order.”


The Guardian: “Malaysian newspaper publishes ‘how to spot a gay’ checklist

“Campaigners have called for a softening of rhetoric in Malaysian media after a series of recent deaths of men and women suspected of being gay or transgender…The derogatory attitude towards LGBT people in the media is also symptomatic of the increasing influence of conservative Islam in mainstream politics and culture in Malaysia. The Sinar Harian article was accompanied by an interview with Hanafiah Malik, a preacher who warned homosexuality was on the increase in Malaysia and said there was an urgent need to stop the trend.”

See also:

news24: “‘Spot a gay’ list in Malaysian newspaper sparks outrage



The Irrawaddy: “Yangon Police Lodge Complaints against 7Day Newspaper

“Lt. Col Myint Htwe of the Yangon Division Police lodged a complaint with the Myanmar Press Council last week against 7Day Daily, one of Myanmar’s leading independent newspapers, over an article that claimed the lawsuits brought against two Reuters journalists were initiated at the orders of Vice-President U Myint Swe.”


Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Threats, arrests, and access denied as Myanmar backtracks on press freedom

“Myanmar’s media, both local and foreign, are under heavy assault as security measures used to suppress the press under military rule are reactivated under Suu Kyi’s quasi-democratic regime, several journalists who cover the country told CPJ. It marks a dramatic reversal in recent press freedom gains and augurs ill for the country’s delicate transition from military to elected rule…. Authorities are increasingly abusing various draconian colonial and military era laws to repress reporting on a widening range of topics. Many journalists and activists had hoped the laws would be amended or scrapped when Suu Kyi came to power with a strong electoral mandate to push democratic change through liberal reforms.”

See also:

Reuters: “Myanmar policeman who detained Reuters pair ‘did not know arrest procedures’” ; “UK’s Johnson says to raise detained Reuters reporters with Suu Kyi” ; “Factbox: International reaction to arrest of Reuters reporters in Myanmar
Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB): “Police officer testifies in Reuters reporters’ trial
The Irrawaddy: “7 Tatmadaw Soldiers to Be Held Accountable for Killing of 10 Muslims in Rakhine
Frontier Myanmar: “Inn Din village administrator facing investigation after Reuters report on massacre
ABC News: “Myanmar government under Suu Kyi cracks down on journalists


The Irrawaddy: “Prosecution offers to drop charges against Swe Win if he Apologises to U Wirathu

“The criminal defamation charge filed against Myanmar Now editor Swe Win will be dropped if he agrees to apologize to nationalist monk U Wirathu, the prosecutor in the case told the court today (13 February 2018)…. But Swe Win, who was charged under section 66(D) of the Telecommunications Law, said he would not apologize for allegedly sharing a post on Facebook that was critical of U Wirathu for supporting Kyi Win, the alleged murderer of prominent Muslim lawyer U Ko Ni.”

See also:

Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Myanmar Journalist Charged With Defamation Refuses to Apologize to Firebrand Monk


The Irrawaddy: “Women Journalists Say Access to Information More Challenging Under NLD

“Access to information has become far more challenging under the National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government, Myanmar women journalists told their Asian colleagues at the Women in News Southeast Asia summit in Yangon last Thursday (8 February 2018). The discussion focused on ways of reshaping the media landscape…. Myanmar women journalists shared their experiences of reporting on politics under the NLD, discussed coverage of women’s issues, and offered safety tips and advice on responding to harassment.”


PEN America: “2018 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award: Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo

“At the 2018 PEN America Literary Gala, PEN America will honor imprisoned Myanmar reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo with the 2018 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award. The journalists were arrested on December 12, 2017, and charged with violating the Official Secrets Act for their work investigating violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.”

See also:

The Washington Post: “Two journalists exposed a massacre in Burma. Now they’ll be awarded for their work — from prison.



The Straits Times: “Double trouble for Philippine media

“The Philippine media, possibly the most boisterous and freewheeling in Asia, is under siege on two fronts…. While it is facing political pressure from a president who chafes at being challenged, it is also grappling with the harsh reality that audiences are turning away in favour of social media, never mind if the free content is often laced with ‘fake news’.”


Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Journalists, media groups tackle fake news

“The forum, titled ‘Democracy and Disinformation: How Fake News and Other Forms of Disinformation Threaten Our Freedoms, and How to Fight Back,’ will be held on Monday (12 February 2018) and Tuesday (13 February 2018) at Ateneo de Manila Rockwell Campus in Makati City.”

See also:

Rappler.com. “LIVE: Democracy and Disinformation Forum


The Newton Tech4Dev Network: “Newton Tech4Dev Research Identifies Ad and PR Executives as ‘Chief Architects’ of Fake News Production and Social Media Trolling

“Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Leeds (U.K.) have released a new research report that sheds light on the network of digital workers designing political disinformation campaigns, authoring fake news and fanning the flames of public discontent in the Philippines.”


INQUIRER.net: “Roque to resign if Congress approves anti-fake news bill

“Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has vowed to resign once Congress passes a bill against fake news, and challenge its constitutionality before the Supreme Court (SC)…. Apparently referring to Sen. Grace Poe’s Senate Bill No. 1680, Roque said that the measure violates the freedom of expression and of the press under the 1987 Constitution’s Bill of Rights.”

See also:

Rappler.com: “Roque says he’ll resign if Poe’s ‘fake news’ bill becomes law
Manila Bulletin: “Roque threatens to quit if bill on fake news is ok’d by Congress


Rappler.com: “Netizens fear troll exploitation of Facebook’s ‘downvote’ button

“Netizens have expressed concern over the planned ‘downvote’ button in the comments section of Facebook, fearing it may be exploited by trolls and bots, and cause deeper political divisions…. Facebook confirmed to tech news website TechCrunch on Thursday, February 8, that it is testing a ‘downvote’ button in the comments section.”



TODAY: “So your children are on FB. Should you follow their accounts?

“The inaugural Global DQ Index Report, which was released earlier this month, revealed that children in Singapore spend more time online compared with those in other countries. The report examined the online habits of children aged eight to 12 and surveyed 38,000 children in 29 countries. Children in Singapore spend 35 hours staring at a screen each week, three hours more than the global average. For those with mobile phones, this rises to an average of 45 hours a week online.”



Bangkok Post: “Chuvit under heavy fire for defamation

“Former House speaker Yongyuth Tiyapairat yesterday (15 February 2018) filed two civil lawsuits against TV show host Chuvit Kamolvisit and others over broadcasts linking him to money laundering and human trafficking activities…The civil actions follow defamation lawsuits which the veteran politician lodged with the Criminal Court against the same people earlier this month.”


Khaosod English: “Reporters demand full report of sexual harassment inquiry

“A petition was launched Monday (12 February 2018) demanding a national media association reveal the full results of an inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment involving a prominent news director…. Twelve reporters so far have signed the petition accusing the Thai Journalists Association, or TJA, of burying key findings and issuing a misleading statement fundamentally different from what was agreed. The allegations were confirmed by several people who either helped write or have seen the original report.”


Bangkok Post. Editorial: “Don’t abuse Section 112

“During the post-2014 coup period alone, iLaw, a civic group monitoring law enforcement, reported that at least 94 people were charged under the lese majeste law, or Section 112 of the Criminal Code, which seeks to punish those who defame the monarchy. Many of them were political activists, politically active citizens or merely internet users who happened to share articles deemed to offend the highest institution.”

See also:

ASEAN Today: “Prayut’s campaign of repression thunders on



Voice of America (VOA): “Vietnamese City Rescinds Directive Curtailing Press Freedom

“One day after Danang authorities issued guidelines requiring the local press to obtain official approval before disseminating content, city officials rescinded the order in the face of public outcry…. Vietnamese media reported that along with the withdrawal of the censorship request, the Danang Department of Information and Communications also ‘sincerely apologized to the press.'”


Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Vietnamese Authorities Transfer Jailed Blogger Mother Mushroom to Remote Prison

“Vietnamese authorities have transferred ailing jailed blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh to a remote prison more than 620 miles from her former location in the city of Nha Trang on the country’s south central coast without notifying her family, her mother said Monday (12 February 2018).”



Please refer to this blog for other media, press freedom, and free expression stories not included in this roundup.

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