Weekly Media Roundup (13 – 19 October 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) 

Reports: 

[Myanmar] 

State of freedom of expression harks back to nation’s dark past

 

Burma News International (BNI): “Court examines prosecutor in Eleven Media journalists’ case” 

 

Statement: 

[Indonesia] Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI, Alliance of Independent Journalists): “AJI Urges A Transparent, Rigorous Investigation Into the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi” 

 

General news 

Fojo Media Institute: “Fojo calls for international center against hate and threats” 

“Fojo Media Institute presents a unique report based on an extensive study, financed by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The study proposes an international center for prevention of hate and harassment.” 

 

Indonesia 

TEMPO.CO. “AJI: Indonesialeaks Report Based on Data and Fact” 

“The Independent Journalists Alliance (AJI) head Abdul Manan said reporters and law enforcers had the same intention to seek the truth. However, he added, both professions use different ways and instrument in achieving the goal…. Abdul made the statement in response to Indonesialeaks’ report on alleged bribe case involving National Police Chief Tito Karnavian. The news sparked pros and cons from many parties.” 

 

BenarNews. “Indonesia: Pro-LGBT Facebook Post Draws Anti-Gay Reaction” 

“LGBT people in Indonesia are facing renewed pressure after a ride-sharing company’s message of support triggered an anti-gay response in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country…. In a message on Facebook that has since been deleted, Brata Santoso, a vice president at the ride-sharing company Go-Jek, wrote about a campaign called GOingALLin to celebrate Coming Out Day on Oct. 11.” 

 

Laos 

Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Lao Police Shut Down Concert Raising Funds For Rural School” 

“Lao police shut down a benefit concert this week held to raise funds for a local school after objecting to a slogan found on T-shirts sold at the site, Lao sources said…. The concert, held on Oct. 14 in the Kaysone district of Savannakhet province in southern Laos, had run for only 40 minutes before police closed it down and attempted to detain a concert organizer found wearing a T-shirt carrying the slogan ‘No bribes for jobs!’ Police said they saw the slogan as a challenge to the ‘directives and policies’ of the state in the one-party communist country, a concert organizer named Nang wrote on her Facebook page the next day.” 

 

Malaysia 

The Star Online: “Group slams minister’s press officer for calling out reporter on social media” 

“Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm) has slammed a minister’s press officer, whose actions allegedly caused cyber-bullying of a reporter…. It said that the officer, in a Facebook post, had zeroed in on a report by Utusan Malaysia and questioned the value of the story, saying that the minister was merely ‘joking’ when making his statement.” 

 

Malay Mail: “DAP man claims cops questioned him over FB remark” 

“A DAP member claimed he was questioned by police yesterday (12 October 2018) over a comment he posted on Facebook…. Cheah Leong Huat, 48, said he was taken to the Teluk Intan district police by four policemen last night over his remark saying a thanksgiving ceremony should be held if Perak DAP chairman Nga Kor Ming and adviser Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham lose in tomorrow’s party election.” 

 

The Splice Newsroom: “How the Sarawak Report broke Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal” 

“When Clare Rewcastle Brown founded the Sarawak Report in 2010, it was designed to highlight issues affecting indigenous communities in the Malaysia state, such as deforestation and corruption…. But it soon became known for something else entirely…. The site was instrumental in breaking the 1MDB story, which helped topple Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak, who has since been charged with 25 counts of money laundering.” 

 

The Malaysian Insight: “Broadcast media enjoy more freedom after GE14” 

“English-language broadcast stations are now enjoying the freedom to push greater boundaries in their coverage of politics and current issues under the new Pakatan Harapan government, station heads said.” 

 

The Star Online. “Dr M: Gov’t needs more time to implement Freedom of Information Act” 

“The government needs more time before a Freedom of Information (FIA) Act can be implemented, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad…. The Prime Minister said that a comprehensive and holistic study is needed to ensure the FIA meets the standard set by similar laws at the state level.” 

See also: 

Free Malaysia Today (FMT). “PM: Freedom of Information Act still being studied” 

 

Myanmar 

The Irrawaddy: “Official Suing Journalists for Incitement Tells Court Their Article was Wrong” 

“The government official suing three Eleven Media Group journalists for incitement told a court on Wednesday (17 October 2018) that information in a recent article was incorrect…. Managing editors U Kyaw Zaw Lin and Nari Min and chief reporter U Phyo Wai Win were arrested on Oct. 10 and charged under Article 505 (b) of the Penal Code for an article published two days earlier that was critical of the Yangon Region government…. The trial started Wednesday at the Tamwe Township Court.” 

See also: 

Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Myanmar President Intervenes in Case of Three Journalists Jailed Over Article” 

 

Amnesty International. “Myanmar: Drop charges against three Kachin activists” 

“Joint statement by Amnesty International and CIVICUS calling on the Myanmar authorities to immediately drop defamation charges against three Kachin activists who led a peaceful rally in Kachin State, where they called for humanitarian access to thousands of displaced civilians and for an end to the armed conflicts in northern Myanmar. The prosecution of the activists – and other recent cases of politically motivated arrest and imprisonment – represent an alarming return to practices that characterized Myanmar’s decades of direct military rule.” 

 

The New York Times: “A Genocide Incited on Facebook, With Posts From Myanmar’s Military” 

“Members of the Myanmar military were the prime operatives behind a systematic campaign on Facebook that stretched back half a decade and that targeted the country’s mostly Muslim Rohingya minority group, the people said. The military exploited Facebook’s wide reach in Myanmar, where it is so broadly used that many of the country’s 18 million internet users confuse the Silicon Valley social media platform with the internet. Human rights groups blame the anti-Rohingya propaganda for inciting murders, rapes and the largest forced human migration in recent history.” 

 

Frontier Myanmar. “Government ‘intentionally and recklessly’ restricting freedom of expression: Athan” 

“Freedom of expression under the National League for Democracy-led government is worsening despite initial hopes of improvement, youth activist group Athan said Thursday (18 October 2018), in a mid-term report that documents a litany of charges filed in the past two-and-a-half years under laws that violate freedom of speech.” 

 

Philippines 

SunStar Cebu. “Bobby Nalzaro: #libelpamore” 

“Two months after the court dismissed the libel case filed by the ‘former political has-been’ against me four years ago, another libel case was filed against me over the weekend. This time, courtesy of the ‘former political hasbeen’s’’ son, Miguel. This is my 27th libel case in my 38 years in the media profession. But all were dismissed…. Miguel filed two libel cases against me. One is for violation of cyber libel based on Republic Act 10175, or the Cyber Crime Prevention Act of 2012, considering that my article was published online. The other one is in violation of Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code.” 

See also: 

Cebu Daily News: “Nalzaro seeks inhibition of Cebu City prosecutors over libel raps files by Osmeña’s son” 

 

Philippine Daily Inquirer: “755,973 FB accounts in PH hacked” 

“Personal information of more than 755,000 Facebook users in the Philippines was compromised last month, making them likely targets of spam operations and phishing attacks, according to the National Privacy Commission (NPC)…. The NPC made the disclosure after a compliance order was filed against Facebook Inc., the first of its kind following a data breach in September that compromised the personal information of tens of millions of users across the globe.” 

 

Manila Bulletin: “PRRD creates committee to review FOI exceptions” 

“A government committee has been created to review and update exceptions to the freedom of information (FOI) mechanism in the Executive Branch…. In Memorandum Circular No. 49, President Duterte designated the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to chair the ‘inter-agency freedom of information exceptions policy committee….’ The committee includes the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) and the National Privacy Commission (NPC).” 

See also: 

INQUIRER.net: “Duterte creates committee to review FOI exceptions in executive branch” 

The Philippine Star: “Duterte creates FOI exception policy body” 

 

Thailand 

Bangkok Post: “Cyberbill outcry puts PM on defensive” 

“Critics are concerned the draft law is ill-defined, lacks check-and-balance mechanisms and might violate individuals’ rights and privacy…. Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Wednesday (17 October 2018) the prime minister is aware of growing public concerns and has instructed legal experts to look into the matter.” 

 

Asia Times: “A lighter royal touch for Thailand” 

“The UN earlier this year expressed its ‘grave’ concern about the use of Article 112 and its impact on what it termed ‘legitimate exercise of the right of freedom of expression.’ The military government responded in a letter that said the law ‘accords with Thai traditional and cultural values’ and that the monarchy was ‘revered by Thais at all levels….’ That exchange of letters may now be somewhat behind the times, as the law’s use appears to be easing dramatically.” 

 

Timor-Leste 

Asia Pacific Report: “Timor-Leste GMN media group ‘sacks’ editor over role on Press Council” 

“The news editor for National Media Group (GMN) in Timor-Leste has been dismissed due to his role as the TL Press Union (TLPU) representative on the country’s Press Council…. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the TLPU has condemned the dismissal of the editor as ‘outrageous’ and called for his immediate reinstatement.” 

See also:

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). “Timor Leste: Editor dismissed over role on Press Council” 

 

Vietnam 

Defend The Defenders. “Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weeky Report for October 8-14, 2018: Jailed Citizen Journalist Do Cong Duong Added With Five-year Imprisonment, 9th Member of Right Group Arrested” 

“Vietnam’s communist regime has given citizen journalist and anti-corruption activist Do Cong Duong with additional five years of imprisonment as reprisal for his peaceful activities against local corrupted officials…. On October 12, the People’s Court of Bac Ninh province convicted Mr. Duong on allegation of ‘abusing democratic freedom’ under Article 331 of the 2015 Penal Code one month after the People’s Court of Tu Son town sentenced him to four years on charge of ‘disrupting public order’ under Article 318 of the law. He was arrested on January 24 this year and charged with the two allegations while filming a forced land eviction in his town.” 

See also: 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF). “Vietnam: Second trial brings blogger’s total prison sentence to nine years” 

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Vietnam sentences citizen journalist on second anti-state charge”  

 

Yahoo! News: “Freed Vietnam blogger ‘Mother Mushroom’ arrives in US” 

“A dissident Vietnamese blogger known by her pen name ‘Mother Mushroom’ has arrived in the United States after her surprise release from prison, telling a large crowd of supporters she will ‘never keep silent’ in her fight for democracy in the one-party state…. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, 39, was quietly freed from a jail on Wednesday (17 October 2018) in Vietnam and put on a plane with her elderly mother and two young children who were seen smiling and hugging her in images shared on social media.” 

See also: 

BuzzFeed News: “Vietnamese Blogger ‘Mother Mushroom’ Is On Her Way To The US After Being Released From Prison” 

Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Vietnamese Blogger Mother Mushroom Released, Exiled to US” 

France 24: “Dissident Vietnam blogger ‘Mother Mushroom’ released, on way to US” 

Reuters. “Freed Vietnamese dissident ‘Mother Mushroom’ flies to U.S.: sources” 

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Vietnam releases from prison CPJ awardee ‘Mother Mushroom’” 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Vietnam’s Mother Mushroom is freed, leaves for United States” 

PEN America: “Release of Vietnamese Blogger ‘Mother Mushroom’ A Welcome Development” 

 

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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