Weekly Media Roundup (15 – 21 September 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) 



Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): Inquirer reporter tagged as terrorist by Facebook page

See also: 

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): Don’t shoot the messenger


Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): Broadcaster’s house shot at in Negros Occidental

See also: 

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): Home of Negros Occidental broadcaster shot at



[Cambodia] Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR): Second Annual Report of the Cambodia Fundamental Freedoms Monitor


Southeast Asia 

New Naratif: “‘Circling’ Around Human Rights” 

“The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) was established in 2009. The body, made up of representatives from all 10 member states, has a mandate ‘[t]o develop strategies for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms’ within ASEAN. But AICHR has come under fire throughout its existence for being ineffectual.” 



The ASEAN Post: “Cybercrime laws and conflicts of interest” 

“Cambodia has witnessed strong growth in terms of its internet penetration rates. In July, Telecommunication Regulator Cambodia spokesperson Im Vutha said the total number of internet users as of the end of June had reached 12 million, up from 10.8 million in December. The number pushes the Kingdom closer to its 2020 goal where the government expects that 100 percent of the urban dwellers and 80 percent of rural dwellers will have access to the internet. But there are two sides of the internet coin to look at in Cambodia…. While the country seems to be heading in the right direction as far as providing internet access to its people goes, the country has also become notorious for its dwindling internet freedom especially in the face of Cambodia’s recent 2018 election.” 



Malaysiakini: “Court acquits Malaysiakini editor, CEO after charges dropped” 

“The Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court today (20 September 2018) granted an acquittal to Malaysiakini and KiniTV directors, editor-in-chief Steven Gan and chief executive officer Premesh Chandran, over several charges of uploading an offensive video on former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali…. They were charged under Section 233(1) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA).” 

See also: 

Yahoo! News: “Court acquits Malaysiakini bosses over airing video against ex-AG Apandi” 


The Star: “Fake news still a crime in Malaysia” 

“Even the established democracies have been struggling with a suitable definition, mostly agreeing that there are pronounced problems with disinformation in the context of political choices, and harm as a result of hate speech, escalated by the use of social media. There is no doubt that we have to find ways to deal with the deluge of unverified information online and possibly political disinformation, but a law that seems to have had very little clarity on what it intends to regulate, or that does not take into account how technology works, is doomed to be a tool for those in power.” 


The Malaysian Insight: “Utusan to downsize 50% staff” 

“UMNO-controlled Malay daily, Utusan Malaysia, today offered voluntary separation scheme (VSS) letters to its 1,500 employees in a restructuring exercise aimed at off-loading at least 50% of the workforce to overcome its financial constraints…. Sources told The Malaysian Insight the decision was made at a meeting between Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Bhd executive chairman Abd Aziz Sheikh Fadzir and its staff at its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today (21 September 2018).” 

See also: 

Malaysiakini: “NUJ slams Utusan VSS, chastises Umno for not protecting Malay workers” 


The Star: “Former Rocket editor expected to be named Bernama CEO, say sources” 

“Journalist Wan Hamidi Hamid, the former editor-in-chief of the DAP party publication The Rocket, is expected to be appointed Bernama CEO, say sources…. The Bernama board headed by Datuk Seri Azman Ujang is expected to meet up soon to endorse the appointment.” 

See also: 

Rais Yatim claims Wan Hamidi as Bernama CEO will ‘politicise’ the news agency” 


Malaysiakini: “Activist Fadiah questions Harapan’s initiative to protect freedom of speech” 

“Lawyer and human rights activist Fadiah Nadwa Fikri questioned the initiative of Pakatan Harapan to protect freedom of speech after she was called in by police today on the content of a speech she made on July 29.” 


Splice Malaysia: “After Malaysia’s political shift, journalists push for legislative change.” 

“Now that the dust has settled following Malaysia’s unprecedented election result in May, which saw the Barisan Nasional coalition ousted for the first time in the country’s history, journalists want the new Pakatan Harapan government to realize promises made during the heat of the campaign…. We spoke to Malaysian journalists about just what changes they would like to see to government rules, regulations and policies that have long impacted their work.” 


Free Malaysia Today: “Probe arrest of Sabah activists, Suaram tells Putrajaya” 

“A human rights NGO has demanded that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government investigate the arrest of eight youth and student activists for holding a demonstration to highlight issues in Sabah…. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) said as an administration which had promised to uphold reform and protest human rights, PH must investigate the conduct of the police and the Kota Kinabalu City Council (DBKK).” 



Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Former Columnist Jailed For Social Media Criticism of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi” 

“A court in Yangon has sentenced a former newspaper columnist for state media to seven years in prison and ordered him to pay a fine for violating a sedition law by criticizing Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi on social media, in the latest challenge to freedom of expression in the Southeast Asian country…. Ngar Min Swe, a well-known critic of the country’s de facto leader, was arrested on July 12 at his home in Hlaing township and charged under Section 124A of the Penal Code for Facebook posts that took aim at Aung San Suu Kyi, whose civilian-led National League for Democracy (NLD) party has been in power since 2016.” 


The New York Times: “Opinion | Myanmar’s Assault on a Truthful Press” 

“When Myanmar’s government defends the harsh sentence given to two courageous reporters who exposed mass murder, it breaks a fundamental promise of democracy: the rule of law based on facts.” 

See also: 

Reuters: “Myanmar youth, journalists demonstrate against jailing of Reuters reporters” 

Frontier Myanmar: “Yangon youth protestors demand the release of jailed Reuters journalists” 

Asian Correspondent. “‘A massacre is not a state secret’: Protests in Burma against jailing of journalists” 

Voice of America (VOA): “Myanmar Free Speech Advocates Plan Prolonged Campaign” 

Nikkei Asian Review: “Suu Kyi alienates the media she once entranced” 

The Interpreter. “Myanmar: media stranglehold” 

Columbia Journalism Review: “Wary Myanmar journalists adapt to Reuters verdict” 

The Diplomat: “Facebook Waking Up to Genocide in Myanmar” 


The Irrawaddy: “Military Chief’s Russian Social Media Account Removed, Reappears” 

“Just over two weeks after Myanmar’s military chief had found a new propaganda platform on VKontakte (VK), Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing was removed from Russia’s most popular social media network over the weekend…. It was the second time the country’s top military leader was banned from a social networking site.” 


International Media Support (IMS): “New study sheds light on media habits in Myanmar” 

“A new study ‘Myanmar’s media from an audience perspective’ provides insights into people’s media habits and understanding of news and information. The study conducted by IMS-Fojo, finds that people prefer local media and news on topics that relates to their everyday lives and challenges. While TV remains the most popular news medium, social media, and Facebook in particular, is catching up.” 



Mindanao Independent Press Council (MIPC) Incorporated: “Spare Julie Alipala; respect journalists” 

“The members of the working press belonging to Mindanao Independent Press Council (MIPC) Incorporated, would like to call on those people behind dubious facebook account Phil Leaks to spare Julie Alipala from their tirades and respect the work of the journalist … Calling a Mindanaoan journalist as member of a terrorist organization and a paid hack is a total disregard of the principles we uphold in this profession, which further maligns Alipala’s integrity as a journalist.” 

See also: 

ABS-CBN News. “OPINION: Harrassing Julie won’t kill the truth” 

Philippine Daily Inquirer: “(Editorial) Defending Julie” 


ZDNet: “Broadcaster ABS-CBN customer data stolen, sent to Russian servers” 

“Customers of ABS-CBN may be facing the possibility of the theft of their financial data due to a payment skimmer which has been discovered in the major Filipino broadcaster’s online store…. According to Dutch security researcher Willem ‘gwillem’ de Groot, the payment skimmer has been active since August this year.” 

See also: 

GMA News: “ABS-CBN shuts down online stores over data breach” 

INQUIRER.net: “ABS-CBN shuts down 2 online stores amid data breach” 

Rappler.com: “ABS-CBN online store hacked – report” 


INQUIRER.net: “TV crew feared missing is safe – network” 

“A news reporter of TV5 and two crew members previously thought missing were reported safe and sound, the network announced on Twitter late morning Sunday (16 September 2018).” 

See also: 

TV crew sent to cover ‘Ompong’ ‘missing’ in Cagayan” 

GMA News: “TV5 news team reported missing in Cagayan accounted for, is safe —network” ; “TV5 news team reported missing in Cagayan after Ompong” 



The Straits Times. “Select Committee on fake news: Measures against falsehoods need not curtail freedom of speech” 

“A calibrated approach is needed to tackle online falsehoods, to address concerns that countermeasures may impinge on freedom of speech, the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods said in a report released on Thursday (Sept 20)…. In a 176-page document, the committee set out its findings from 170 written submissions and eight days of public hearings earlier this year.” 

See also:

Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods: How to respond | Vital features spelt out for proposed laws” ; “Select Committee on fake news: Alternative and mainstream media should follow same standards of fairness, accuracy and integrity” 

Channel News Asia. “Select Committee on deliberate online falsehoods: Government accepts recommendations in principle” 

Reuters: “Singapore panel recommends regulation of tech firms over fake news” 



Al Jazeera: “Leaders of new Thai party charged over Facebook speech” 

“Authorities in Thailand have charged the leader and two senior members of a newly-formed political party for allegedly spreading false information about the ruling military government on Facebook…. Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a 39-year-old tycoon and the founder of the Future Forward party, along with the two members, reported on Monday (17 September 2018) to a police station in the capital, Bangkok.” 

See also: 

Channel News Asia: “Thai police charge founder of new political party over Facebook speech” 


Bangkok Post. “Poll: Many Thais disagree with online campaigning ban” 

“Many Thais do not want political parties banned from campaigning in social media ahead of the general election, saying they would feel deprived of information and freedom if that happens, according to an opinion poll…. The survey results were released on Saturday (15 September 2018) while authorities were considering how to control online political campaigning for fear of distorted information.” 


The Nation: “Six accused of torching royal portraits acquitted” 

“Six young Thais accused of setting portraits of some Royal Family members on fire have been granted rare acquittals, their lawyer said yesterday, escaping strict royal defamation charges that can carry 15 years in jail…. Thailand has some of the harshest lese majeste legislation in the world…. The law, known as Article 112, carries a maximum sentence of 15 years per count and trials are often held behind closed doors.” 

See also: 

Reuters: “Thailand drops royal insult charges for burning royal portraits” 

Bangkok Post: “(Editorial) Lese majeste losing ground” 



Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Vietnam Land Rights Activist Do Cong Duong Handed 48-Month Jail Term” 

“A court in the northern Vietnamese province of Bac Ninh sentenced land rights activist and citizen journalist Do Cong Duong 48 months in prison on Monday (17 September 2018) for ‘disturbing public order,’ his lawyer told RFA’s Vietnamese Service…. Duong, 54, was detained on January 24 by the police of Tu Son commune in Bac Ninh while he was filming a forced eviction. He met his lawyer, Ha Huy Son, on April 5 and was charged with ‘disturbing public order.'” 

See also: 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Vietnamese citizen-journalist facing second, longer jail term facing second, longer jail term” 

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Vietnam jails journalist for four years over coverage of evictions”


Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Vietnamese blogger missing since arrest by police two weeks ago” 

“Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of Ngo Van Dung, a Vietnamese blogger and citizen-journalist whose location has been unknown since his arrest by police on a street in Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon) exactly two weeks ago…. Alerted by friends who witnessed his arrest on the morning of 4 September, Ngo Van Dung’s family tried to reach him on his mobile phone only to receive a message saying simply that he had been arrested by the police in Ho Chi Minh City’s Ben Nghe district.” 


The Washington Post: “This Vietnamese singer tried to battle state censorship. Now she only performs there in secret.” 

“She is Do Nguyen Mai Khoi, pop star, blackballed political candidate, democracy advocate — and the recipient this year of the Vaclav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent, which recognizes artists who use innovative means to push back against authoritarianism…. In Vietnam, where the Communist Party rules with an iron fist, Mai Khoi has used lyrics to combine themes of resistance and protest. That is enough to make her an enemy of the state in the eyes of the country’s leadership, which keeps a tight lid on dissent at home even as it reaches out to the West and others as a key economic partner in the region.” 



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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