Weekly Media Roundup (11 – 17 August 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) 

[Cambodia] Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR). Joint statement: Civil society groups call for the release of Tep Vanny

 

Southeast Asia 

The Epoch Times: “Media Key to Good Governance, but Press Freedom Diminishing Worldwide” 

“Diminishing media freedom is a growing concern across the world, but a recent study by Time magazine, summarized below, on the situation in southeast Asia illustrates the general problem…. All ten member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations last year placed in the bottom third of the Index.” 

 

Cambodia 

New Naratif: “The Dangers of Activism in Cambodia” 

“Human rights defenders, political commentators and the independent press have come under pressure in the country as Prime Minister Hun Sen clamps down on dissent … Activists, journalists and analysts are now thinking twice before speaking out.” 

 

Indonesia 

Front Desk. “Asiad : Media not allowed to enter games village in Palembang” 

“The press corps covering the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games 2018 are barred from entering the Games Village…. This has never happened before during other major meets hosted in Palembang…. Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Media Operations representative for Palembang, Tony Mariadass said the decision was taken as a security measure due to the Village at the Jakabaring Sports Complex not having an international zone.” 

 

Malaysia 

The Associated Press (AP): “New Malaysian government repeals law banning ‘fake news’” 

“Malaysia’s new government on Thursday (16 August 2018) repealed a widely criticized law prohibiting ‘fake news,’ in a move hailed as a landmark moment for human rights by a group of Southeast Asian lawmakers…. The bill was rushed through Parliament in April under former Prime Minister Najib Razak despite concerns that it would be used to silence dissent ahead of a May 9 general election. It carried a penalty of up to six years in jail and a fine of 500,000 ringgit ($128,000).” 

See also: 

Free Malaysia Today: “Motion to repeal Anti-Fake News Act gets Dewan’s nod” ; “Motion to repeal Anti-Fake News Act tabled at Dewan Rakyat” 

The Malaysian Insight: “Malaysia repeals anti-fake news law” 

The Guardian: “Malaysia scraps ‘fake news’ law used to stifle free speech” 

CNN: “Malaysia repeals controversial fake news law” 

ARTICLE 19. “Malaysia: Repeal of Anti-Fake News Act must be followed by broader legislative reform efforts” 

 

Vulcan Post. “PSA To M’sia: The More You Try To Censor Something, The More Viral It Gets” 

“With the current conversation going on because of the censorship attempt, it can be argued the LGBT community and lifestyle have been brought further to the forefront and to public attention. There are conversations happening now that could not have happened without this removal.” 

See also: 

Sinar Project: “Online LGBT Censorship Malaysia” 

 

Bernama.com: “Govt To Formulate Freedom Of Information Act – Liew” 

“The government will formulate the Freedom of Information Act so as to be in line with the promise made by Pakatan Harapan (PH) in its manifesto, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong…. He said the formulation of the legislation required an in-depth study to ensure it would not contravene any of the existing laws.” 

 

Malay Mail: “Putrajaya mulls limiting internet access after midnight to combat cyber, gaming addiction” 

“The Health Ministry is looking at policy models in other countries to control Internet addiction among teenagers and youths including limiting access to internet after midnight, Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said today (13 August 2018)…. He said it is important as the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2017 had revealed that 34.9 per cent of teenagers between the ages of 13 to 17 are addicted to the Internet.” 

 

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA). “Case Study: The case of Lena Hendry and Freedom of Expression in Malaysia” 

“After three years of court litigation, Lena Hendry was on 10 March 2016 acquitted by the Magistrates’ Court as it found that the prosecution failed to prove its case against her. On 21 September 2016, however, the High Court reversed the acquittal, and on 21 February 2017 she was convicted by the Magistrates’ Court. On 22 March 2017, she was sentenced to a fine of RM10,000 or spend a year in jail. After the sentence, the prosecution initiated an appeal for a higher penalty, but later withdrew it on 14 December 2017. Lena Hendry also decided to withdraw her appeal against her own conviction, as she has ‘bigger battles to be fought outside’,[3] and she is currently completing a Master in human rights in the United Kingdom.” 

 

Myanmar 

The Irrawaddy: “Civilian Lawmakers Counter Military Representatives’ Complaints Against Journalists” 

“After military representatives to the national legislature complained to the Speaker of the Union Parliament about the parliamentary journalists, civilian lawmakers said they have had no issues with the journalists…. In the complaint dated Aug. 1, military representatives accused journalists of acting without responsibility or accountability by publishing news stories, photos and video clips about the activities of lawmakers. The complaint was accompanied by two photos, published by the European Press Agency and The Irrawaddy respectively, and four screenshots of video files published by Mizzima.” 

See also: 

Myanmar Times: “Restrictions imposed on reporters covering the parliament” 

 

Reuters: “Why Facebook is losing the war on hate speech in Myanmar” 

“Reuters found more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments and pornographic images attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims on Facebook. A secretive operation set up by the social media giant to combat the hate speech is failing to end the problem.” 

 

Reuters. “‘Hijab is like a key’: Myanmar blogger battles bias with beauty campaign” 

“Muslims in Buddhist-majority Myanmar usually keep a low profile for fear of intimidation, but Win Lae Phyu Sin, one of the community’s rare bloggers on beauty care, has gone the other way.” 

 

Mizzima: “Looking back, Mizzima marks its 20th Anniversary” 

“Mizzima believes that only with the security of a free and vibrant media in Myanmar, can the country’s full potential be realized. As such, Mizzima is proud of its legacy as a founding member of independent media in Myanmar and looks forward to growing and prospering in tandem with the country.” 

 

Philippines 

INQUIRER.net: “‘Let it pass,’ says Duterte on mess with ABS-CBN” 

“While he said he was hurt by ABS-CBN’s alleged refusal to provide him airtime for his campaign ads during the presidential race in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte now appears to be turning over a new leaf with the television network…. In a pronouncement that seems to soften his expletive-laced tirades against ABS-CBN, Duterte said he wants to let go of the network’s move to air anti-Duterte ads paid for by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.” 

See also: 

GMA News. “Duterte on ABS-CBN beef: ‘Let it pass’” 

 

Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Activist-tour guide Carlos Celdran appeals jail sentence” 

“Activist-tour guide Carlos Celdran has asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision sending him to jail for offending priests with his pro-Reproductive Health (RH) law protest stunt inside the Manila Cathedral eight years ago…. In a motion he filed on Wednesday (15 August 2018), Celdran asked the high court to overturn the decision handed down by its three-member First Division last March.” 

See also: 

ABS-CBN News: “SolGen seeks Carlos Celdran’s acquittal over ‘Damaso’ ruling” 

philstar.com: “Calida backs Celdran’s appeal on SC case” 

 

Rappler.com: “Can spreading gossip or hoaxes online land you in jail?” 

“Among the top 3 cyber-related complaints from 2014 to 2016 was cyberlibel, an offense that can cost someone 5 to 8 years in prison if found guilty by the courts…. The punishment for cyberlibel is higher than ordinary libel – up to 6 years and one day of imprisonment under the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines…. Since the cybercrime law was enacted in 2013, the number of cyberlibel complaints have increased drastically by 124% from 2014 to 2015, compared to the 8% increase from 2015 to 2016. That’s 249 complaints in 2014 to 558 in 2015 and 603 in 2016.” 

 

INQUIRER.net. “PCOO staff, execs told: Be mindful of posts on social media” 

“The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) has reminded its officials and employees to be ‘mindful’ of the content of what they post or share on social or mainstream media…. Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, who is also PCOO’s chair for gender and development, issued a memorandum on Aug. 13 in the aftermath of the controversial ‘I-pepe-dede-ralismo’ video posted by her colleague, Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.” 

 

Vietnam 

Defend the Defenders: “Pro-democracy Campaigner, Environmentalist Le Dinh Luong Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison” 

“On August 16, the Higher People’s Court in Hanoi shocked everyone by imposing 20 years of imprisonment for pro-democracy campaigner and environmentalist Le Dinh Luong in the short trial against him on allegation of subversion…. In the first-instance hearing which lasted only several hours in Thursday’s morning, the court found the 53-year-old activist guilty of “carrying out activities aiming to overthrow the government” under Article 79 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code. The People’s Procuracy proposed a punishment of 17 years of jail, however, after a long dispute with the defendants’ lawyers, judge Tran Ngoc Son decided to give him 20 years in prison and five years under house arrest, the most severe imprisonment given to a political prisoner in the past several years.” 

See also: 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Vietnamese blogger gets 20-year jail sentence” 

 

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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