WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (14 – 20 May 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)

Net Merdeka. “Keep the internet free: Parliament should not pass problematic amendments to CMA

“As the Malaysian Parliament reconvenes its meeting this 16 May 2016, we, a coalition of civil society organisations, urge all elected legislators to reject the expected amendments to the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 that will further compromise the rights of individuals to freedom of expression.”



The Cambodia Daily: “Analyst Ou Virak Questioned Over Defamation Complaint

“Political analyst Ou Virak was questioned at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday (12 May 2016) over a defamation suit filed against him last month by the CPP, which claims he affected the “dignity” of the ruling party in comments he made in a radio interview.”


The Cambodia Daily: “Government to Review Media That Shun ‘Samdech’

“The Information Ministry will in July start reviewing the operating licenses of media outlets that fail to abide by a recent order that they refer to Prime Minister Hun Sen by his royally bestowed title of ‘samdech,’ a ministry official said on Sunday (15 May 2016).”



ucanews.com: “Indonesian purge on communist symbols draws ire of activists

Azas Tigor Nainggolan, coordinator of the Indonesian bishops’ Advocacy and Human Rights Forum: “the crackdown of free speech and freedom of expression appears to roll back the reforms that Indonesians fought so hard to achieve after the fall of President Suharto in 1998.”

See also:
The Jakarta Post: “Fear of communism, limits on freedom of expression persist



Radio Free Asia: “Three Lao Nationals Are Latest Victims of Forced Disappearances

“Two Lao nationals have been arrested upon returning home from Thailand where they were working, while a third has vanished, because they criticized the Lao government while abroad, their friends and relatives said.”



The Star Online: “Freeing the media from repressive laws

“All these repressive laws are no longer relevant in modern democracy and have the effect of crippling democratic freedoms. They create a situation in which the media is not able to carry out its role in full as the Fourth Estate.”


Malay Mail Online: “Bill to amend CMA stifling freedom of speech online — The National Human Rights Society

“HAKAM views with disquiet the news reports that the government plans to further regulate the use of the internet, especially online media, through amendments to the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA).”

See also:
Malaysiakini: “Abandon plans to amend CMA, groups tell gov’t
Free Malaysia Today: “Nine NGOs demand internet freedom
Electronic Frontier Foundation: “Malaysian Parliament Suppresses Debate on Anti-Blogger Amendments


Malaysiakini: “Gerakan Youth don masks outside DUN in protest against FOI

“Three members of Penang Gerakan Youth wing today (17 May 2016) don surgical masks outside the State Legislative Assembly as a symbolic move to show that citizens are being silenced despite the existence of the state’s Freedom of Information Enactment (FOI).”


Malay Mail Online: “Ok to criticise, not ok to ‘insult’ leaders, DPM says

“Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today (14 May 2016) he is not averse to constructive criticism, but warned critics against resorting to “insults” to make their point.”

See also:
Free Malaysia Today: “BN component calls on Putrajaya to respect freedom of expression



Mizzima. “State media to continue in Myanmar: Information Minister

Information Minister U Pe Myint: “state media can ‘act as a bridge between the government and the public’ and that it will continue to have a role in Myanmar under the National League for Democracy government.”


The Irrawaddy. “Editorial: Squabbles Over Terminology Obscure Suu Kyi’s Larger Goals

“The New York Times is wrong to conclude that Suu Kyi, having bravely championed the rights of her compatriots in the face of despotism for a generation, has “continued” the unacceptable policies of Burma’s former military rulers.”


Coconuts Yangon: “Support for legislation in Myanmar criminalizing ‘hate speech’ gathers steam

“A number of groups are working on drafting a bill to criminalize ‘hate speech’ in Myanmar, a move that could strike a serious blow against hardline Buddhist nationalists should it ever make its way through parliament.”



Rappler.com. “NUJP: Ex-Ampatuan lawyer as Duterte’s spokesperson could affect case

“Lawyer Salvador Panelo, whom president-elect Rodrigo Duterte named as his spokesman, is being haunted by his involvement in high profile cases like the 2009 Maguindanao massacre…. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), in a statement, expressed its ‘serious misgivings about his potential appointment as presidential spokesman and its possible implications on the trial of those accused.'”

See also:
InterAksyon.com: “Duterte’s choice of former Ampatuan lawyer as spokesman assailed


GMA News Online: “Duterte reiterates stance on freedom of expression

“On press freedom, (president-elect Rodrigo) Duterte said he was never portrayed as an ‘angel’ by the press and asserted that criticism is part of public service…. ‘Iyong criticism, good or bad, true or not is part of the territory of governance in public,’ he said.”


Sun.Star Cebu. “Cabaero: Hope, doubt in FOI guarantee

“(President-elect Rodrigo) Duterte, now the presumptive president until the Commission on Election proclaims him the winner and president-elect, said last week he would start with the executive department in implementing the FOI (freedom of information).”


Davao Today: “Labor and press freedom

“It is not fortuitous that the International Workers’ Day also dubbed as Labour Day commemorated every 1st of May is antecedent to World Press Freedom Day every 3rd of May. The former seeks to unite the working class as they put forward their collective demands and struggles against the capitalist market while the latter upholds the fundamental freedom of the press including the rights of the journalists and media workers that are historically subject of various State attacks.”


Philippine Daily Inquirer: “PDI editors, reporters plead not guilty to libel

“Editors and reporters of the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Wednesday (18 May 2016) pleaded not guilty to the libel case filed against them by anchorman Melo del Prado of dzBB Radio.”

See also:
GMA News Online: “PDI editors, reporters arraigned on libel filed by dzBB anchor



Bangkok Post: “Freedom key to press thriving, groups say

“For over a decade, the Thai media has been the subject of heated debate, between those who point to restrictions on freedoms of the press and urge for those limitations be lifted, and others, who call for reporters and editors to show more responsibility, said Supinya Klangnarong, a National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) member…. However, these two poles — freedom and responsibility — are inseparable, she argued.”

See also:
National News Bureau of Thailand: “NBTC stresses responsible journalism in light of World Press Freedom Day


Bangkok Post. Editorial: “Address UN rights worries

“The downplaying of international criticism and continued citations of Thailand’s ‘unique situation’ will not improve the country’s human rights situation, which has deteriorated since the May 22, 2014 coup, nor will it help salvage its bruised image.”

See also:
Justice official defends human rights record” ; “Regime casts wide net to catch critics
The Nation. “Editorial: Junta deserves no time to mull UN pleas


Bangkok Post: “Yingluck urges freedom of expression ahead of referendum

“Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has called on the government to ease ongoing tensions by allowing freedom of expression ahead of the Aug 7 constitution referendum.”


Bangkok Post: “Harit’s father seeks UN help

“The father of one of the two “Facebook 8″ suspects who remains in jail has petitioned the United Nations for help with the temporary release of his son and the other detained person.”

See also:
Facebook 8 next report to court on July 3


BBC: “The Thai cleaning lady facing prison for ‘I see’

“A cleaning lady in Thailand is being charged by the government for posting the words ‘I see’ on Facebook. She is accused of insulting the monarchy – a charge that can lead to jail sentences of up to 15 years. However, she says she is being punished because her son is an activist, as the BBC’s Jonathan Head reports.”


The Nation: “Lecturer kills self after standoff

“Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, director of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Rajanagarindra Institute, asked TV media, which broadcast the stand-off live for more than three hours, to stop because the constant live coverage had increased pressure on the suspect and negotiators who wanted to save the suspect’s life. The constant TV coverage also made it more difficult for authorities to handle the situation with the risk of undesirable images and footage. The live streaming raised media experts’ concern over journalists’ ethics.”



Committee to Protect Journalists: “CPJ urges U.S. President Barack Obama to prioritize press freedom in Vietnam meetings

“As the United States and Vietnam draw closer together through the “comprehensive partnership” launched in 2013 and through Vietnam’s agreement to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade pact, you possess considerable leverage to press for democratic change in Vietnam. Your upcoming visit to Vietnam would be an opportune time to stress the importance your government attaches to press freedom in countries the U.S. holds as partners and allies.”



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

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