WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (12 – 18 March 2016)

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)


[Malaysia] No charges filed against Australian journalists

See also:
BFM Podcast: “ABC’s Four Corners – Crossing Lines?


[Myanmar] Blast strikes editor’s house in Rakhine capital


Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility
[Philippines] Former gov’s aide convicted in Ortega case


[Thailand] Junta-critic Facebooker detained for seven days


The Cambodia Daily: “Fear Hinders Independent Journalism in Cambodia, Survey Finds

“Fear of government interference, legal repercussions and violence remain impediments to free and independent journalism in Cambodia, according to a survey released on Wednesday (16 March 2016) in a report by the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM).”

See also:
The Phnom Penh Post: “Journos feel pressure from above: report


The Jakarta Post: “AJI pushes media to pay more attention to minority groups

“Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) chairman Suwarjono said it was important for the media to read between the lines with regard to issues surrounding minority groups, especially those related to religion, ethnicity and race…. ‘The media must help give a voice to the minority groups in fighting for their rights. Journalists need to take a stand,’ he said in a press statement on Sunday (13 March 2016).”


Southeast Asia

Asia Sentinel: “Lights Going Out for Free Press in Southeast Asia

“Across Southeast Asia, the free and independent press is under unprecedented attack from governments hostile to the thought of allowing their citizens to read the truth.”


Rappler.com: “Facebook reaches 241 million users in South East Asia

“Facebook is dominating the Internet as it announced on Thursday, March 17, that it has reached 241 million users in South East Asia…. According to the announcement, which is the first time Facebook shared figures on the region, 94% of these people are using Facebook through mobile.”



The Phnom Penh Post: “Student gets 18 months for post

“In jail since last August after posting a Facebook status update calling for a ‘colour revolution’, the 25-year-old was found guilty by Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Heng Sokna and sentenced to 18 months in jail, guaranteeing another year behind bars.”

See also:
Asian Correspondent: “Cambodian uni student jailed for 18 months over Facebook post
UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia: “OHCHR deeply concerned by conviction over Facebook post in Cambodia


The Cambodia Daily: “Rights Groups Warn of Tough Telecoms Law

“Local rights groups have raised major concerns about Cambodia’s sweeping new Telecommunications Law, which gives the government virtually unchecked spying powers and criminalizes any electronic communication deemed to cause ‘national insecurity.'”



The Jakarta Post: “Government proposes lighter penalty for defamation in ITE Law revision

“The government has tried to meet public demand by proposing the amendment of several draconian articles in the 2008 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law.”


UCANews.com: “Freedom of expression falls in Indonesia, researcher says”

Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy: “There were 45 cases of violation against the freedom of expression in 2015, up from 40 cases in 2014…over the past year the state has attempted to ban discussions on past human rights abuses, has attempted to silence public critics and has set limits on journalists.”



Astro Awani: “The Malaysian Insider not profitable

The Edge Media Group: “It is with much sadness that The Edge Media Group (TEMG) wishes to announce that we have decided to cease the operations of The Malaysian Insider (TMI) news portal with immediate effect…. Despite the fact that TMI is one of the top three news portals based on traffic in Malaysia because of its courageous news reporting, it did not receive enough commercial support to keep it going.”

See also:
Yahoo News: “We need to talk about Malaysian Journalism
Malay Mail Online: “Rethink heavy hand on media freedom, Putrajaya urged after TMI shutdown” ; “A new leash of virtual life
The Guardian: “Independent Malaysian news site closes amid government clampdown on media” ; “The press has become too free for the government of Malaysia
New Mandala: “Silencing the media in Malaysia
The Straits Times: “Malaysia may tighten rein on online media


Bangkok Post: “Australian journalists held for trying to question Malaysia PM

“Two Australian journalists were arrested and barred from leaving Malaysia after attempting to question Prime Minister Najib Razak about a corruption scandal, national broadcaster ABC said Sunday (13 March 2016).”

See also:
The Star Online. “Zahid Hamidi: Media must abide by the law
Irrawaddy: “Australia ‘Deeply Concerned’ Over Arrest of Journalists in Malaysia
Reporters Without Borders: “RSF Calls On Prime Minister To Respect Media Freedom
The Wall Street Journal: “Australian Journalists Investigating 1MDB Scandal Arrested in Malaysia
Al Jazeera: “Malaysia slammed for arresting Australian journalists
ABC: “Four Corners crew Linton Besser and Louie Eroglu told they will not face charges in Malaysia
Asian Correspondent: “Australian Journalist calls Malaysia Detention ‘a circus’
The Australian: “Four Corners arrests highlight Malaysia’s media crackdown



The Irrawaddy: “Police Investigate Blast at Journalist’s Home in Arakan State

“An Arakan State-based journalist claims to have been targeted for his media outlet’s coverage of controversial issues, holding a press conference in Rangoon on Monday (14 March 2016) to discuss an explosion last week at his home in Sittwe that he characterized as an attack.”

See also:
Myanmar Times: “Small bomb in Sittwe targets media outlet
Committee to Protect Journalists: “Myanmar journalist’s home targeted in bomb attack
Reporters Without Borders: “RSF calls for thorough investigation of bombing at journalist’s home


Eleven. “New president will defend human rights, freedom of expression: PEN Myanmar

“PEN Myanmar issued a statement yesterday expressing its belief that newly elected President Htin Kyaw will try to ensure Myanmar citizens enjoy fundamental human rights and freedom of expression.”


Mizzima: “Moving Myanmar’s media industry forward

“With the first democratically elected government in 50 years poised to take over the reins on April 1, the country’s media industry is eager – and expectant – that further relaxations will be granted. However a certain level of anxiety exists as to the details of such reforms, and how soon they can be implemented.”



Channel News Asia: “Roy Ngerng to pay S$150,000 in damages to PM Lee in instalments

“To pay the S$150,000 in damages owed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for defamation, blogger Roy Ngerng will start with payments of S$100 a month for five years, his lawyer said on Monday (Mar 14).”

See also:

The Independent: “ICJ deplores S’pore govt’s practice of civil defamation suits to silence critics
Bangkok Post: “Singapore blogger gets 17 years to pay libel damages to PM
The China Post: “S’pore blogger to pay libel damages to PM
MSN: “Singapore blogger to pay PM Lee libel damages
Rappler.com: “Blogger who lost libel suit makes first payment to Singapore PM
The Straits Times: “Blogger pays $30,000 in costs over defamation case
Asia Sentinel: “Besieged Singapore Blogger Again Turns to Crowdfunding



Khaosod English: “‘It Shouldn’t Have Happened,’ Latest Junta Detainee Says in Exclusive Interview

“…Sarawut Bamrungkittikhun said there was no reason he should have ever been held incommunicado over a Facebook page where he posted and shared criticisms of the junta.”


Benar News. “Thailand: Media Advocates Worry About Junta’s Encroachment on Press Freedom

“The situation for reporters in Thailand is ‘dire,’ a senior journalist told diplomats in Bangkok, citing military ‘attitude adjustments’ for the local press corps and new visa restrictions for foreign media.”

See also:
The Nation: “PM slams ThaiPBS for ‘report bias’” ; “Editorial: FCCT invasion a dangerous move


The Nation: “Social media becoming a charter draft battleground

“Online outlets, most notably Facebook, have become popular media for constitution draft enthusiasts and opponents to agitate for and against the charter as it is due to be completed by the end of the month with a referendum in July.”


The Nation: “‘A struggle for freedom of expression’

Amnesty International (AI) Thailand chairman Chamnan Chanruang on the human rights situation in the country including the free expression issue

See also:
Prachatai English: “Computer Crime charge bars sea environmentalist from doing his work


Asia Sentinel: “State Capitalism and Threat to Democracy

“A country rated ‘free’ by Freedom House in the late 1990s, one of the only in Asia to receive that designation, was downgraded in the 2000s to only ‘partly free.’ In rankings of freedom of speech, press, Internet, and assembly, by groups like Freedom House, Reporters without Borders, and the US State Department, Thailand plummeted even further.”


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

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