WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (10 – 16 March 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)



National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): Former NUJP director, correspondent receives death threats




On the coverage ban against Rappler reporter Pia Ranada

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): “When the government fears the truth
Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): “Foreign Media and the Presidential Coverage


General news

Association for Progressive Communications (APC). “Content regulation in the digital age: Submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to fredom of opinion and expression

“For civil society and multistakeholder forums that deal with content regulation in the digital age more broadly, this is a useful moment to assess the strengths and shortcomings of state regulation and self-regulatory regimes when it comes to protecting the wide range of rights that internet users around the world have come to rely on to exercise their rights online and offline.”


Southeast Asia

The Nation: “Elections not seen as panacea for Asia’s ills

“Elections due in many Asian countries in the next couple of years may be manipulated to vindicate authoritarian rulers and autocracy, panelists at a symposium warned yesterday (16 March 2017)…The assault on human rights and the rule of law; the attack on freedom of expression as well as misuse of the law are happening widely in the region…”



UCAN News: “Cambodia’s war on the press

“The arrest of Yeang Sothearin and Oun Chhin is indicative of the increasingly perilous environment for journalists operating in the country since RFA, The Cambodia Daily and scores of independent radio stations were shut down last year.”


Khmer Times: “Southeast Asia Radio jams air traffic control

“The Information Ministry ordered Southeast Asia Radio, FM 106 MHz, to immediately stop all broadcasting.  The ministry discovered that FM 106 radio broadcasts were interfering with airport air traffic control frequencies.”



Agence France Presse (AFP): “Indonesia makes criticising politicians a crime

“Indonesians could be jailed for criticising national politicians under a new law which came into force Thursday, in what critics slammed as a major step back for the world’s third-biggest democracy…. The vaguely worded bill passed the 560-member house last month but has just become official, over the objections of President Joko Widodo who refused to sign off on the controversial legislation.”


TEMPO.CO. “Tempo Caricature: AJI Says FPI Misunderstood Press Law

“Jakarta Independent Journalists Alliance (AJI) stated FPI misunderstood about the Press Law by conducting a protest against Tempo caricature at Tempo office in Palmerah, South Jakarta, Friday, March 16. The rally that forced Tempo to admit the journalistic mistakes was an anti-democratic and anti-press freedom act.”


Channel News Asia. “Money, politics behind spread of falsehoods in Indonesia: Founder of anti-hoax community

“Falsehoods are created and spread online in Indonesia for economic and political reasons with no regard for the consequences, said the founder and chairman of Mafindo, an anti-hoax community, on Friday (Mar 16)…. Mr Septiaji Eko Nugroho said in a country with low literacy levels like Indonesia, this situation is ‘quite worrying’, adding that the spread of falsehoods has taken a toll.”



The Straits Times: “Malaysia’s deputy minister warns foreign media against spreading ‘fake news’ about 1MDB

“A Malaysian deputy minister has warned the foreign media against publishing ‘fake news’ linking Prime Minister Najib Razak to scandal involving state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB)…. Deputy Minister for Communications and Multimedia Jailani Johari said, as quoted by the Malay language Sinar Harian daily, that following the seizure in Bali of luxury yacht Equanimity believed to be owned by businessman Low Taek Jho, the foreign media has been spreading fake news to tarnish Datuk Seri Najib’s name ahead of the upcoming general election.”


Malay Mail Online: “Appeals court orders TV3 to pay RM200,000 damages to lawyer for defamation

“The Court of Appeal today (13 March 2018) ordered Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Bhd (TV3) to pay RM200,000 in damages to veteran lawyer Manjeet Singh Dhillon for defamation…. A three-man bench comprising Datuk Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, Datuk Dr Badariah Sahamid and Datuk Mary Lim Thiam Suan unanimously allowed Manjeet Singh’s appeal to reverse the High Court decision which had dismissed his lawsuit against TV3.”

See also:

Free Malaysia Today. “Defamation: Court orders TV3 to pay RM200,000 to former Bar chief


Free Malaysia Today. “Press freedom: Why didn’t Dr M act earlier, asks Salleh

“Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak today (15 March 2018) took Dr Mahathir Mohamad to task over his statement that Pakatan Harapan (PH) would allow more press freedom and remove laws that restrict freedom of expression if voted into power in the coming general election…. He also questioned Mahathir for not doing this during his tenure as prime minister.”

See also:

Mahathir: PH will free mainstream media from political control


Malay Mail Online: “After Women’s March, participants harassed online and offline

“Several participants of a rally today (10 March 2018) in conjunction with the International Women’s Day this week, were allegedly harassed by a group of men after the march had wound down…. Women’s March Malaysia committee member Yubanesan Balan told Malay Mail that among others their placards were snatched near the Dang Wangi police station here by men who threatened that they would lodge a police report against them and the march.”


Free Malaysia Today: “Putrajaya to review Printing Presses and Publications Act

“Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today (13 March 2018) the government would review the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 to prevent writing, broadcasting and publishing from being overly restricted by guidelines…. Zahid, who is also the home minister, said this was necessary as the alternative media had almost monopolised the industry.”

See also:

The Star Online: “Groups welcome review of Printing Presses and Publications Act



Reuters: “Myanmar urged not to drag out case against Reuters reporters

“Some international observers urged Myanmar on Wednesday (14 March 2018) not to drag out legal proceedings against two Reuters journalists, as they appeared in court for the 10th time since they were arrested in December and accused of possessing secret government papers.”

See also:

Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB): “In ‘dragged out trial,’ concerns for detained Reuters journalists’ health
Myanmar Times: “Reuters’ journalist shows symptoms of liver disease


Coconuts Yangon: “China accuses Myanmar Times of ‘malicious manipulation’

“The Chinese embassy in Yangon has accused the Myanmar Times of publishing ‘distortions and malicious manipulation’ in an article about plans for a special economic zone in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State. The accusation came in a letter to the editor, which the Myanmar Times published on Monday (12 March 2018).”


The Irrawaddy: “Regional Govt Says Weekly Journal Violated Media Ethics With Satirical Piece

“The Tanintharyi regional government has sued the Tanintharyi Journal, a weekly journal published in the region, for violating media ethics, said deputy director of the regional government office U Aye Lu, who filed the complaint…. The complaint was filed in December over a satirical piece deemed to satirize the regional chief minister Daw Lei Lei Maw and her family.”


Mizzima: “Ministry of information briefs media on Rakhine State

“Myanmar’s Deputy Minister of Ministry of Information Aung Hla Htun speaks to the media during a press conference on Rakhine State’s situation in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, 14 March 2018.”

See also:

Deputy Minister of Information Aung Hla Tun: Facebook post on 9 March 2018


Reuters: “U.N. investigators cite Facebook role in Myanmar crisis

“U.N. human rights experts investigating a possible genocide in Myanmar said on Monday (12 March 2018) that Facebook had played a role in spreading hate speech there…. Facebook had no immediate comment on the criticism on Monday, although in the past the company has said that it was working to remove hate speech in Myanmar and kick off people who shared such content consistently.”


Mizzima: “Myanmar activists receive EU’s 2018 Schuman Award for Human Rights

“The European Union in Myanmar honoured Cheery Zahau, Ko Swe Win and Daw Khin Than Htwe with this year’s Schuman Award for Human Rights, according to a statement. The three activists and human rights defenders received the award recognising their outstanding merits in promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms in Myanmar during an award ceremony at the residence of EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt on 15 March 2018.”



INQUIRER.net: “Gunman in slay of Surigao del Sur broadcaster identified

“The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFOMS) has identified the gunman in the murder of Surigao del Sur broadcaster Christopher Iban Lozada…. PTFOMS Executive Director Usec. Joel Sy Egco said a witness had pointed to Rolly Mahilum, former driver and aide of Bislig City Mayor Librado Navarro, as the gunman.”


Rappler.com: “NBI claims initial ruling on Rappler cyber libel case ‘prematurely disclosed’

“The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Monday, March 12, defended its flip-flopping on the cyber libel complaint against Rappler…. Addressing the inconsistency of dismissing then later forwarding the complaint to the Department of Justice (DOJ), NBI chief Dante Gierran said the information that the complaint was dismissed was apparently prematurely disclosed.”

See also:

ABS-CBN News: “‘No reversal’ in filing of cyber libel vs Rappler, says NBI
The Guardian: “The woman taking on Duterte in a press freedom fight in the Philippines
The Washington Post: “Duterte takes aim at the press, testing the foundations of Philippine democracy
Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Philippine government brings two new complaints against Rappler


Rappler.com: “Rappler provincial reporters barred from covering Duterte’s events

“Even Rappler’s correspondents based outside Metro Manila will not be allowed to cover President Rodrigo Duterte’s events in their provinces…. This was confirmed to Rappler by Presidential Communications Undersecretary Mia Reyes in a text on Tuesday, March 13.”


Rappler.com: “What you need to know about state surveillance

“Could the government be watching you? With recent news of the United Kingdom selling spyware to the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the possibility is closer to real…. According to reports, the Philippine government in 2016 purchased communications surveillance equipment, including International Mobile Subscriber Identity-catchers (IMSI-catchers), which are used to simulate and mimic cell towers and eventually intercept correspondences connected to it.”

See also:

State surveillance: A necessary evil?
Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights): “Surveillance equipment from UK may be used by PH gov’t to spy on activists, rights defenders


INQUIRER.net. “Roque: Duterte a ‘very big supporter’ of press freedom

“Despite criticisms thrown at him, President Rodrigo Duterte remains a ‘very big supporter’ of press freedom, his spokesman said during a Senate hearing on fake news on Thursday (15 March 2018).”

See also:

Poe, Roque clash over proposal barring officials from spreading fake news
Blogger to gov’t offices: Keep your Facebook pages hate-free



Reuters: “Singapore starts landmark public hearing on fake news

“Singapore on Wednesday (14 March 2018) began a public hearing on how to tackle the threat of fake news, with speakers suggesting measures ranging from blocking websites to balancing the interests of national security and free speech…. The wealthy city state is among the countries looking to introduce legislation to rein in fake news, a trend that has stirred concern that such laws could be used to exert government control over media.”



Bangkok Post. Editorial: “Public lose the airwaves

“The junta is poised to ‘reset’ the regulatory body that makes all the key decisions about radio, TV and mobile phones. Secret meetings of selectors have narrowed a field of 86 applicants down to 14 short-list candidates. From that final list, the National Legislative Assembly will soon vote on which seven are best qualified to sit on the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). There will be winners but more importantly, there will be so many losers.”



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

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