Weekly Media Roundup (16 – 22 February 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)


[Cambodia] Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM): Three reporters detained for alleged extortion; deny accusation


[Indonesia] Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI, Alliance of Independent Journalists): AJI Jakarta Condemns Violent Treatment of Journalists at Munajat 212


[Philippines] Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): “Cagayan de Oro Journalist ‘Red’ tagged” 

See also: 

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). RED TAGGING: Hands off NUJP-Cagayan de Oro member Cong Corrales and family


[Singapore] Activist Jolovan Wham ditches fine for 16-day prison term over illegal assembly

See also: 

SEAPA decries ‘harsh’ penalties against Wham, urges court to drop all charges


[Thailand] SEAPA lauds court’s decision lifting Voice TV ban; says it ‘gives grounds for hope’

See also: 

Suspending Voice TV: ‘An attack on media freedom’ —Pakistan Press Foundation


[Vietnam] With new cyber law in place, takedown of online report on plastic pollution a portent of more online crackdowns?



[Myanmar] Myanmar Journalist Network (MJN): Media community condemns verdict against Tanintharyi Journal over a satirical article



Government’s unrelenting demonization, red-tagging escalates threats to media, press freedom


National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): “Persecution of Rappler underscores need to decriminalize libel NOW” 



[Laos] The deadly wave that changed everything

See also: 

Dam disaster victims stare at an uncertain future

Survivors of dam collapse battle dengue, malnutrition

Compensation talks begin for dam disaster victims


[Malaysia] CIJ, MCCHR launch site for media council national consultation


[Philippines] Environment, health impacts awareness factor in tobacco production nosedive

See also: 

Images of women absent from posters on safe tobacco growing


General news 

Coda Story: “Coda Story Launches New Channel Covering ‘Authoritarian Tech’” 

“Coda Story announces the launch on February 18 of its new channel ‘Authoritarian Tech.’ The foundation Access Now has provided pilot funding for the channel…. Surveillance, privacy, information, control: Coda Story provides global reporting on how governments abuse and distort the power and potential of emerging technologies such as AI, facial recognition, digital tracking, and social media and will explore how these technologies are strengthening autocratic regimes and stifling dissent.” 


Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA): “Instruments of Repression – A Regional Report on the Status of Freedoms of Expression, Peaceful Assembly, and Association in Asia” 

“FORUM-ASIA’s new report ‘Instruments of Repression: A Regional Report on the Status of Freedoms of Expressions, Peaceful Assembly, and Association in Asia’, provides information on the repressive laws in the region, documented by our members, covering the period 2016 – May 2018.  The report also makes significant recommendations for the improvement of the existing policies, which would enable progressive action by all stakeholders, including governments, policymakers, duty-bearers, and civil society organisations.” 


Southeast Asia 

Nikkei Asian Review: “As Southeast Asia muzzles media, investors do business as usual” 

“The arrest last week of a high-profile journalist in the Philippines and a gag order against a Thai television station are the latest reminders that Southeast Asia’s press freedoms rest on the whims of governments. But after investors poured a record $145 billion into the region last year, there is little reason to think they will be deterred by the latest clampdowns.” 



New Naratif: “A Cambodian Veteran Reporter Forced Into Exile” 

“While it was difficult to say definitively whether the ‘incitement’ case was as a result of Pheap and Peter’s reporting on illegal logging, Meyn said, reporters like Pheap are not welcome under Hun Sen’s regime in 2018…. ‘What is certain is that Pheap symbolised the type of journalism—and journalist—that the Cambodian government have tried to get out of the country in the past couple years,’ he said.” 


Khmer Times: “MIF on freedom of the press” 

“He (Ouk Prathna, Secretary of State) did, however, voice concern that freedom of the press, if its use is unbridled and in violation of the law, could lead to the dismantling of democracy, disrupting the peace, the interruption of national development, and even thrust Cambodia into a real war.” 



The Jakarta Post: “Groups condemn defamation lawsuit against Southeast Sulawesi journalists” 

“Journalists and rights activists have condemned a defamation lawsuit against Fadli Aksar and Wiwid Abid Abadi, two Southeast Sulawesi journalists who wrote news reports about alleged fraud and document forgery by a legislative candidate…. Fadli and Wiwid were reporting for their respective local media, detiksultra.com and okesultra.com, about alleged fraud and document forgery by Andi Tendri Awaru, a candidate from the National Mandate Party (PAN).” 


The Jakarta Post. “‘Tape the good side, not the bad side!’: Journalists intimidated, assaulted while covering 212 prayer” 

“A group of journalists claim to have been intimidated and assaulted by members of an Islamist group while covering the 212 Munajat prayer event at the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta on Thursday (21 February 2019) night…. According to the Jakarta Chapter of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), the incident started at around 9 p.m. when commotion ensued in the middle of the prayer, reportedly triggered by the arrest of a pickpocket.” 


The Jakarta Post: “Perludem, Google launch new website to inform Indonesian voters” 

“Election watchdog the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) launched on Tuesday (19 February 2019) its new web-based platform pintarmemilih.id that will allow the public, particularly young voters, to find comprehensive information regarding the 2019 simultaneous presidential and legislative elections…. The platform, which means ‘smart voting’ in English, is sponsored by Google Indonesia. The project has also received support from the General Elections Commission (KPU) and the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), anti-hoax platform Cek Fakta, news portal rumahpemilu.org, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) and YouTube channel Kok Bisa?. 



The Star Online: “(Letters) Why allow bullies to censor?” 

“The undersigned organisations working on issues of freedom of expression and media freedom are very concerned about the Penang state government and the police’s collusion with bullies who have successfully shut down the play Love In Georgetown City…. The advice to shut down the play is particularly disconcerting given that the police had already said that the play contained no pornographic elements, as alleged by protesters.” 


New Straits Times (NST). “(Opinion) NST Leader: It is what the press says” 

“And in the interest of our readers, too, each media organisation must make public its Press Charter by which we pledge to adhere to the standards of a free and fair press…. Again, the readers will be the judge…. Freedom must perforce come with responsibility.” 



Eleven: “Military Chief Office complains to MPC about Asahi Shimbun’s failure to follow media ethics” 

“The Office of the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services has sent a complaint to Myanmar Press Council (MPC) calling for mediation over the Asahi Shimbun newspaper’s failure to follow media ethics, said MPC member Myint Kyaw…. He said, regarding the complaint, that the council had not asked the Japanese newspaper for details.” 

See also: 

Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Japanese Daily Hit in Complaint by Myanmar’s Military Over Interview With Top General” 


The Irrawaddy: “Court Fines Weekly Journal Over Satirical Article” 

“A court in Tanintharyi Region on Monday (18 February 2019) fined a local weekly 500,000 kyats ($327) for a satirical article it published more than a year ago that offended the region’s chief minister…. ‘It is not a fair decision,’ Tanintharyi Journal editor-in-chief U Myo Aung said of the Dawei Township Court’s decision, especially, he added, given the government’s efforts to establish a liberal democracy that respects the freedom of expression.” 


Reuters: “Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo win prestigious George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting” 

“Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo been awarded a prestigious George Polk Award in the Foreign Reporting category…. The Polk Awards, presented by Long Island University in the United States, honor special achievement in journalism, with particular focus on investigative reporting in the public interest.” 



Rappler.com: “Duterte supporters call for attacks on Rappler newsroom, journalists” 

“Two rabid supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte sneaked into the Rappler headquarters on Thursday afternoon, February 21, to condemn the media organization for allegedly destroying the country’s image before the world…. Blogger Mark Lopez, accompanied by active netizen Jovybev Aquino, did a Facebook Live as they trespassed on Rappler premises in Estancia mall, Capitol Commons, Pasig City, at around 3 pm, telling their viewers they were calling on Rappler to pay taxes instead of staging a ‘drama’ before the international community.” 


ABS-CBN News. “OPINION: SC ruling allows police to make editorial decision” 

“Lawyer Romel R. Bagares, of Butuyan & Rayel Law Offices, representing more than 30 members of media and media groups, filed Feb. 8 a motion for reconsideration for the Supreme Court First Division to elevate to the En Banc the case against officials of the Arroyo government over the arrest of reporters that covered the protest staged by a group of military officers led by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and retired Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, who is now Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman, 11 years ago.” 


The Philippine Star: “Belmonte files libel case vs Morato, tabloid execs” 

“Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte yesterday (18 February 2019) filed a libel complaint against former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office chairman Manuel ‘Manoling’ Morato and 10 others over the publication of an article accusing her of graft…. The case stemmed from the Feb. 15 banner story of tabloid Saksi Ngayon, which Belmonte said maliciously implied that she committed a crime despite its basis being a complaint and not an actual court ruling.” 


Rappler.com: “Rappler, NUJP ask Duterte to lift coverage ban” 

“After a year that its staff and CEO Maria Ressa were banned from setting foot in Malacañang or covering President Rodrigo Duterte’s events, Rappler and media watchdog group National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) called on the Palace to abandon this order…. Rappler management wrote to both Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on Wednesday, February 20, exactly a year after Duterte’s order to ban Rappler reporter Pia Ranada and Ressa.” 

See also: 

One year banned from President Duterte’s events” 


philstar.com. “Guevarra: NYC move restrains youth’s freedom of speech, expression” 

“State universities and colleges should take pride in socially aware students and should not drop them from school, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said, hitting the proposed move of National Youth Commission chair Gian Cardema…. ‘WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, such proposal, if adopted, would effectively restrain the youth’s constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression,’ Guevarra told reporters in a text message.” 

See also: 

Manila Bulletin: “Senators defend students’ right to free expression” 

Rappler.com. “‘Traitor to youth’: Groups slam NYC chief’s proposal vs ‘anti-government’ scholars” 

InterAksyon.com: “Ronald Cardema uses misleading protest photos to justify removal of student scholarships” 


INQUIRER.net: “Duterte signs into law Lifetime Cellphone Number Act” 

“President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a measure that seeks to allow subscribers to keep their mobile phone number for life…. Duterte signed the Mobile Number Portability Act, which Congress ratified on November 13 last year, last Feb. 8.” 


ABS-CBN News: “ABS-CBN TVplus sales hit 7 million as Filipinos go digital” 

“ABS-CBN said Wednesday (20 February 2019) sales of its TVplus reached 7 million 4 years since its launch, reflecting the growing number of Filipinos who watch television on digital…. ABS-CBN, which is rapidly transitioning into an agile digital company, is the first media and entertainment company in the country to switch to digital terrestrial television or DTT from analog.” 



Channel NewsAsia: “Jolovan Wham fined for organising public assembly without permit, chooses to go to jail instead” 

“Social worker and activist Jolovan Wham was on Thursday (Feb 21) fined S$3,200 over a public assembly he organised two years ago without a permit and refusing to sign a police statement…. Wham, 39, indicated he would not pay the fine and will instead serve jail time of 16 days in default.” 

See also: 

TODAY: “Activist Jolovan Wham chooses 16 days’ jail over fine for assembly without permit, refusing to sign police statement” 

The Online Citizen: “Jolovan Wham sentenced 16 days imprisonment in default of fine, for organising assembly without permit and non-signing of statement” 


Forbes: “Singapore Airlines Under Fire For ‘Surveillance Cameras’ In Inflight Entertainment Screens” 

“If air travel wasn’t stressful enough, it now appears that the limited privacy passengers enjoy at 35,000 feet might be eroded still further. Singapore Airlines is facing criticism on social media after passengers noticed a small camera embedded in the inflight entertainment monitor on a number of their newer planes. It started as a Twitter-storm but is likely to prompt a debate as to where the surveillance and privacy line should be drawn.” 

See also: 

news.com.au: “Passenger’s ‘interesting’ discovery on Singapore Airlines’ in-flight entertainment screen” 


The Straits Times: “Move to ensure telco bills are more transparent” 

“All telcos here could soon be required to provide a standardised breakdown of charges when billing customers, under new requirements proposed by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) yesterday (19 February 2019)…. IMDA had received feedback from consumers on how billing information can vary across service providers, with some telcos providing a more detailed breakdown than others.” 



Bangkok Post: “Police seek to prosecute Thanathorn over junta criticism” 

“Police said on Wednesday (20 February 2019) said they were seeking the prosecution of the leader of the new political party Future Forward over a speech he made that was posted on Facebook last June criticising the ruling junta, the National Council for Peace and Order.” 

See also: 

Al Jazeera: “Thai police seek to prosecute new party leader over online speech” 



The Wall Street Journal: “(Opinion) Vietnam Takes Aim at Radio Free Asia” 

“Vietnam is tightening controls on dissent and targeting journalists. When President Trump goes to Hanoi next week for a summit with his North Korean counterpart, he should raise with the host nation the fate of two Vietnamese journalists working for Radio Free Asia, the U.S. government-funded broadcaster I lead.” 



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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