Weekly Media Roundup (12 – 18 January 2019)

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) 


[Regional] Dire state of freedom of expression in SEA mirrors global trend

See also: 

[Philippines] Duterte administration stepped up attacks against media, critics in 2018 — HRW


[Myanmar] Amid narrowing space for free expression, youth group plods on


[Philippines] Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): “Supreme Court Affirms Dismissal of Journalists’ Civil Suit Against Government Officials” 


General news 

Human Rights Watch (HRW): “World Report 2019 | Our annual review of human rights around the globe” 

“World Report 2019 is Human Rights Watch’s 29th annual review of human rights practices around the globe. It summarizes key human rights issues in more than 100 countries and territories worldwide, drawing on events from late 2017 through November 2018…. In his keynote essay, ‘World’s Autocrats Face Rising Resistance,’ Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth argues that while autocrats and rights abusers often captured headlines in 2018, rights defenders pushed back and gained strength in unexpected ways.” 


Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). “CPJ Safety Advisory: Sophisticated phishing attacks mimic 2FA” 

“The cybersecurity research group CERTFA has reported an increase in sophisticated phishing attacks against journalists and human rights defenders. These attacks, which are global, have also targeted individuals who use more robust email providers or two-step verification (2FA) for their email and social media accounts.” 


Facebook: “Doing More to Support Local News” 

“We heard one consistent answer: people want more local news, and local newsrooms are looking for more support. That’s why today we’re announcing an expanded effort around local news in the years ahead … Over the next three years, we will invest $300 million in news programs, partnerships and content.” 

See also: 

Columbia Journalism Review (CJR): “ (Opinion) No, tech companies shouldn’t fund journalism” 


Southeast Asia 

Philippine Information Agency (PIA): “PH chairs ASEAN SOMRI Info, Media Working Group meeting” 

“Philippines chaired the 4th meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Senior Officials Responsible for Information (SOMRI) Working Group on Information, Media and Training (WG-IMT) held in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam from January 15-16 … The two-day meeting discussed policy options and recommendations in advancing the development of the ASEAN information and media sector to boost people’s awareness and appreciation of the work that ASEAN does and the benefits it brings.” 


South China Morning Post: “(Opinion) Why Facebook faces the MySpace graveyard in Asia (and LINE, Instagram and Twitter don’t)” 

“Indeed, it appears to be losing its allure among its core demographic: the young, educated and upwardly mobile. In fact, many younger users have just stopped logging in…. The reason? It’s simple. The ‘kids’ apparently see Facebook as clunky and outdated. Its tiresome algorithms prioritise family and friends over more interesting content…. Of course, there are still markets where Facebook remains dominant.” 



The Phnom Penh Post. “PM: Fight against fake news” 

“Prime Minister Hun Sen raised cyber-security and access to information in his address to nearly 5,000 participants at the correspondents’ dinner held on Friday (11 January 2019) in Phnom Penh…. In his speech, Hun Sen called on officials and members of the press to wage a fight against fake news. He also said two laws are currently in the works to complement the existing 1995 Law on the Press.” 

See also: 

Khmer Times: “Press freedom concerns ahead of meet” ; “Khmer Rise Party slammed over criticism of journalistic standards” 


Khmer Times: “NGOs told to choose words carefully” 

“Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday (17 January 2018) during a meet with members of civil society warned attendees to carefully choose their words when referring to the country’s leadership…. Mr Kheng said referring to the government as ‘Phnom Penh’s regime and Hun Sen’s regime’ can be interpreted as derogatory and demeaning, noting that the terms had been used by some political parties during last year’s national election.” 



Malaysiakini: “Perak exco sues farmer, The Star, MCA chief for defamation” 

“Perak state executive councillor A Sivanesan has filed a defamation suit against a farmer, English daily The Star, and MCA president Wee Ka Siong…. The suit concerns two articles published in The Star that highlighted farmers in Kampung Baru Kuala Bikam who had expressed fears over 76.9ha lands with fruit trees being bulldozed by a sand mining company. The articles also featured Wee’s comment on the matter.” 

See also: 

The Star Online: “Young farmer sued by state assemblyman for defamation” 


South China Morning Post: “Malaysia’s King has stepped down – but watch what you say about the throne” 

“As Malaysia’s nine-member Conference of Rulers deliberates who will become the country’s next Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or king, following a shock abdication last week, colonial-era sedition laws have been used against civilians critical of the monarchy – raising questions on freedom of speech rights under the administration of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad…. To date, three individuals have been arrested under the Sedition Act, which criminalises ‘inciting’ speech, for allegedly insulting the monarchy.” 

See also: 

Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Malaysia: Law Proposed Against Criticizing Monarchy” 


Free Malaysia Today (FMT): “NGO calls for halt to sedition probe on Umno man” 

“An NGO dedicated to press freedom has urged the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to repeal the Sedition Act and stop the investigation on Umno Supreme Council member Lokman Noor Adam under the controversial law…. In a statement today (14 January 2019), the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) reminded the government led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad that it had promised not to use the Sedition Act to curb dissent.” 


The Star: “Enact laws on freedom of information, says Sabah Law Society” 

“The Sabah Law Society wants both the federal and state government to enact laws on freedom of information to create a more transparent administration…. The idea of the freedom of information law was on the basis that a government elected by the people was mandated and empowered to make decisions for the people, said the society’s president Brenndon Soh.” 



The Irrawaddy: “Nationalists Subject Journalist to Devastating Legal Ordeal” 

“This week, Ko Swe Win, the editor of Yangon-based news outlet Myanmar Now, made his 52nd journey to Mandalay Division’s Mahar Aung Myay Township Court, which is hearing a defamation case opened against him in March 2017 by a supporter of ultranationalist monk U Wirathu.” 


The Nation: “Tech boom to bring in a new era in Myanmar” 

“Though digital literacy is still low in Myanmar, people’s eagerness to try new things and their ability to easily adapt to a new environment could generate a technology boom in the country by encouraging young entrepreneurs to establish tech-based companies, say tech experts.” 

See also: 

The Irrawaddy: “Home-Grown Tech Startup Taking on International Competitors” 



ABS-CBN News: “‘Defamation,’ criticism top items PH government wanted Google to remove” 

“The Philippine government had requested Google to remove items from its various platforms, mostly because of ‘defamation’ and ‘criticism,’ the search engine giant said…. Data from Google’s ‘Transparency Report’ showed the Philippine government made a total of 25 requests to remove 80 items from June 2012 to December 2017 … According to its data, ‘defamation’ was one of the top reasons cited by governments in their request for removal from 2011 to the second quarter of 2016…. However, Google saw a sharp increase of requests for removal because of ‘national security’ in December 2016, and also because of ‘regulated goods and services’ in June 2018.” 


philstar.com: “Locsin: I am not misinformed on passport data mess” 

“Insisting that he was not misinformed on the data breach in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. admitted that he lacks information on the breach…. Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. earlier said the country’s top diplomat is misinformed on his claim that a contractor ran away with personal data of passport holders.Yasay, who served as DFA chief from July 2016 to March 2017, insisted that French firm Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciare could not have stolen data from the agency.” 

See also: 

ABS-CBN News: “How much passport data lost? DFA still probing, says Locsin” 

INQUIRER.net: “Passport maker ‘took all data’ when contract terminated, reveals DFA chief” 

GMA News: “Former passport maker took all data when contract was terminated —Locsin” 

Manila Bulletin. “Locsin on passport data breach: No leak so far” 

CNN Philippines. “DFA on passport mess: ‘No assurance on safety and security of some data’” 


Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Probe of Philippines, China CCTV project urged” 

“Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has sought an inquiry into the administration’s project with China to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in public places connected to a central command center, raising concerns about national security…. During budget deliberations, Recto had questioned the Safe Philippines Project with China International Telecommunication Construction Corp., as the latter had tapped Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. as an equipment supplier.” 


Philippine News Agency (PNA): “PCOO vows to sustain gains in media freedom” 

“Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar expressed hope that the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) will work even harder to keep the Philippines out of the top five most dangerous countries for journalists…. Andanar made this remark in a meeting with members of the Zamboanga Del Norte Press Club in Dipolog City on Sunday (13 January 2019).” 


BusinessWorld: “(Opinion) Journalism in troubled times” 

“The only way out of the problem is for journalists to always keep in mind the fundamental imperative of providing a background and a history to everything they report. What’s needed is ‘Accountability Journalism’: journalism focused on investigative reporting, and always aware of the consequences for good or for harm of reporting, comment and analysis — which makes holding the powerful to account for what they say and do the primary journalistic responsibility, and which takes the greatest care to be sure of the accuracy of its facts as well as the validity of its interpretation of their meaning. It’s journalism not only for these troubled times but for all times.” 



Channel NewsAsia: “IMDA exploring tech to block automated scam calls, messages” 

“The Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) is looking into blocking automated scam calls and text messages promoting illegal activities…. Minister for Communications and Information (MCI) S Iswaran revealed this in a written answer to a parliamentary question by Nominated Member of Parliament Assoc Prof Walter Theseira on Tuesday (Jan 15).” 



Bangkok Post: “(Editorial) Free speech must prevail” 

“The prime minister’s orders to the armed forces and now to state agencies to approach voters and monitor political speech are highly troubling. The twin justifications that are claimed do not hold water. Educating voters and exposing outlandish promises is not the job of either the state’s military or civil servants. These orders should be clearly withdrawn … At first blush, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha appears to be taking the same route as during the lead-up to the August, 2016, referendum on the constitution. Heavy intimidation was used to try to silence the opinions of those who opposed the text of that constitution — now, with amendments, the official national charter.” 



CPO Magazine: “Vietnam’s Controversial New Cyber Law Could Entangle Google and Facebook in a Battle Over Freedom of Speech” 

“On January 1, Vietnam’s controversial new cyber law went into effect. The sweeping legislation, which was passed by Vietnam’s National Assembly back in June 2018, requires global technology companies such as Facebook and Google to set up local offices in Vietnam, store all user data on citizens locally, agree to hand over any requested data to the state, and take down any content deemed by the ruling Communist Party to be ‘anti-state’ within a period of 24 hours.” 

See also: 

VNExpress International: “Vietnam wants to be in top 50 nations in IT, telecom” 

Viet Nam News. “Digital economy: new driving force for VN’s development” 



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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