Weekly Media Roundup (17 – 23 November 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) 

Alert: 

[Singapore] The Online Citizen’s editor released after eight hours of police custody, interrogation

 

Reports: 

[Myanmar] Myanmar Journalist Network (MJN): Legal and media reviews on the conviction and 7 year-imprisonment of the Reuters journalists

 

[Philippines] Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network: Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR), National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Philippine Press Institute (PPI), MindaNews, and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ). THE STATE OF MEDIA: Relentless Attacks and Threats Online, On Ground, Across the Nation

See also: 

NUJP. Case Files: The 12 Journalists Killed Under the Duterte Administration

 

Statements: 

[Philippines] 

Remembering the Victims of the Maguindanao Massacre

 

CMFR: “The Danish Ambassador on the Philippine Press” 

 

[Singapore] Stop Defamation Probe of The Online Citizen

 

General news 

Google: “Google News Initiative kicks off Asia-Pacific Innovation Challenge” 

“We are inviting proposals for projects aimed at increasing revenue from readers, including subscriptions, membership programs, contributions and/or new digital products and services.  A panel of Googlers and other tech industry executives will review the submissions and fund selected projects up to $300,000 and finance up to 70 percent of the total project cost.” 

 

Southeast Asia 

Nikkei Asian Review: “(Opinion) Southeast Asia must guard against digital domination risks” 

“Southeast Asia has this month taken a groundbreaking step in developing its booming digital economy with an agreement by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on facilitating cross-border e-commerce transactions…. The idea is to ease restrictions on entrepreneurs in this fast-growing region. But the truth is that instead of assisting local tech businesses Southeast Asia risks domination by a handful of foreign technology companies, mainly coming from China and the U.S.” 

See also: 

Google: “Southeast Asia’s accelerating internet economy” 

 

Malaysia 

Free Malaysia Today (FMT): “Court orders Utusan to pay RM50,000 to Guan Eng for defamation” 

“The High Court has ordered Utusan Malaysia (M) Bhd to pay RM30,000 in damages to former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng over the publication of a defamatory article in 2015…. Counsel N Mureli, representing Lim, told Bernama that Judge Rosilah Yop also ordered Utusan to pay costs of RM20,000 to Lim.” 

 

Myanmar 

The Interpreter: “Myanmar’s press freedom mirage” 

“The case of the two local Reuters journalists is an example of how the military and the administration works to control the narrative about what has occurred in Rakhine State. Despite a transition from direct military rule since 2011, authorities continue to assert the right to determine the news people consume in Myanmar…. Ongoing attempts by officials to control the news of atrocities in Rakhine State over the past year further discredits the claims of anti-Rohingya sympathisers. The Rakhine Minister is doing no favours to Rakhine people by collaborating with (self-proclaimed anti-Rohingya supporter, American Rick) Heizman.” 

See also: 

Reuters: “Myanmar court allows jailed Reuters reporters’ appeal to proceed: lawyer” 

South China Morning Post (SCMP): “(Opinion) Myanmar is jailing journalists for truthful reporting. It must respect the facts and free the reporters” 

Channel NewsAsia. “Commentary: Lecturing Aung San Suu Kyi on press freedom wasn’t Pence’s best moment” 

 

Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Myanmar Press Council Turns Attention to Exposing Fake News” 

“The Myanmar Press Council announced Tuesday that it will focus on exposing people in Myanmar who produce fake news to manipulate public opinion, following the filing of a complaint by authorities in Mandalay region about an apparently phony social media report critical of the local government…. The report about the business community questioning the legitimacy of tenders won by companies owned by the regional chief minister’s family was published on the Facebook page of the Daily News Myanmar on Nov. 11.” 

 

Philippines 

MindaNews. “Kin of massacre victims: ‘Convict the Ampatuans’” 

“Exasperated by the slow wheels of justice, the families of the victims of the November 23, 2009 massacre here of 58 persons, 32 of them from the media, burned here on Sunday (18 November 2018) afternoon the tarpaulins bearing photographs of three principal suspects to decry the failure of the court to render a ruling nine years later…. Calling for a guilty verdict, the families of the victims set on fire at the foot of the massacre marker th tarpaulins of the siblings Andal Jr., Zaldy and Sajid Ampatuan.” 

See also: 

INQUIRER.net: “Maguindanao massacre decision out soon” ; “Kin of Maguindanao massacre victims ‘confident’ of favorable court decision” ; “Mangudadatu bares P100-M offer to drop case vs Ampatuans” 

philstar.com: “As Ampatuan case nears end, massacre victims’ kin forge on with tempered hope” ; “Media groups mark ninth year since Ampatuan massacre” ; “Maguindanao massacre: Guilty verdict seen” 

SunStar Baguio: “Justice still eludes Maguindanao victims” 

Cebu Daily News: “Families of dead journalists cry for justice” 

 

GMA News: “China Coast Guard shoos away Reporter’s Notebook team from Scarborough waters” 

“One of the Chinese crew members, though smiling, hollered and said that we were in ‘the sea area of the People’s Republic of China….’ ‘Without the permission of China, you cannot carry out the interview here,’ the Chinese said…. ‘But this is within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines,’ I told the Chinese officer. In response, he game me a sheepish smile.” 

 

Democracy Now! “Filipino Reporter Maria Ressa on Duterte’s Targeting of the Press & How Facebook Aids Authoritarians” 

“As Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte amps up his attacks on the free press, we speak with renowned Filipino journalist Maria Ressa about Duterte’s deadly ‘war on drugs,’ his affinity for Donald Trump, and his weaponization of social media. Ressa is the CEO and executive editor of the leading independent Filipino news site The Rappler, which Duterte has repeatedly tried to shut down. Last week, the Filipino government indicted her for tax evasion in what is widely seen as the government’s latest attack on the website. We speak with Maria Ressa in New York City. She has received the 2018 Knight International Journalism Award and the Committee to Protect Journalists 2018 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award.” 

See also: 

Renowned Filipino Journalist Maria Ressa Speaks Out Against Duterte: Media Must Fight Gov’t Impunity” 

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “CPJ is honored to present its 2018 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award to Rappler editor Maria Ressa.” 

 

VERA Files. “COMMENTARY | PNP complaint with ‘Ang Probinsyano’ is Duterte’s fight vs ABS-CBN?” 

“But it seems it was just the proverbial calm before the storm. Last month, a media activist shared with us his concern about an information he got that Duterte is so impatient with ABS-CBN and he does not want to wait until the 2020 expiration of ABS-CBN’s franchise…. The source said Duterte wants ABS-CBN out of the way before the May 2019 elections.” 

 

Rappler.com. “SC orders Muntinlupa court: Allow media access to De Lima hearings” 

“The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) to allow media access to the ongoing hearings of detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima, who is on trial for 3 counts of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade.” 

 

Philippine Daily Inquirer. “‘Cyber cleaners’ in PH: A dirty job, but someone’s got to do it” 

“Thousands of Filipino cleaners with the more glamorous title of ‘content moderators’ work secretly inside skyscrapers in a business district in Metro Manila where they sit in front of large computer monitors, combing the vastness of cyberspace in a virtual search-and-destroy mission to expunge deeply disturbing images and videos.” 

 

Singapore 

The Straits Times: “Police investigate socio-political site The Online Citizen for criminal defamation” 

“The police are investigating socio-political website The Online Citizen (TOC) and one of its authors for the offence of criminal defamation, over its recent article involving comments made by MP Seah Kian Peng…. A spokesman for the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), a statutory board under the Ministry of Communications and Information, told The Straits Times that it had lodged the police report.” 

See also: 

TODAY: “The Online Citizen website under police investigation for criminal defamation” 

Channel NewsAsia: “Police investigate The Online Citizen over ‘serious allegations’ made in article” 

CNN: “Singapore news portal on ‘hiatus’ after computers seized by police” 

Yahoo! News: “Singapore probes website for possible ‘criminal defamation’” 

CIVICUS: “Singapore cracks down on critical news websites to silence dissent” 

Amnesty International. “Singapore: Government must end harassment of online news platform targeted over critical article” 

 

The Independent. “Hawkers’ Plight: TISG will hold the line” 

“We are the fourth estate and want to give voice to the man on the street. We have in our pages on theindependent.sg many stories that our state-run media has turned a blind-eye to. We are driven by our mission to hold those in power accountable, for their excesses and it serves as a platform for whistle blowers…. Let the 20th of November go down in our history books as the day when NTUC Foodfare, an organisation that bears the name of our trade union, was after the independent media for standing up for worker rights.” 

 

Yahoo! News. “Singapore cannot count on social media platforms to protect it from fake news: Edwin Tong” 

“Singapore ‘cannot rely on the goodwill’ of service provider platforms – such as social media giant Facebook – to protect the nation from ‘disinformation campaigns’, said Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong on Tuesday (20 November)…. Speaking in Parliament, the 48-year-old was referring to Facebook’s recent refusal to remove an inflammatory post linking Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.” 

See also: 

The Straits Times. “Facebook allows itself to be used to spread lies: SMS Edwin Tong” 

TODAY. “States Times Review article shows ‘insidious nature’ of deliberate online falsehoods: Edwin Tong” 

Reuters: “Singapore lawmaker blasts Facebook over refusal to take down ‘false’ post” 

Channel NewsAsia. “Commentary: Someone needs to do something about Facebook — but what?” 

 

Thailand 

Khaosod English: “Junta no. 2 answers election question with offer of violence” 

“Obviously incensed by questions whether oft-delayed elections would happen as planned in February, the deputy junta leader said he would answer such questions with his fists…. Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, who is also defense minister and deputy prime minister, responded incredulously on Thursday (15 November 2018) to reporters’ questions about whether the junta would delay the elections now slated for Feb. 24. The 73-year-old retired general offered a noncommittal response that elections would happen according to the junta’s ‘roadmap’ before responding angrily.” 

 

BenarNews: “Madam Secretary TV Show is Fiction, US Assures Thailand” 

“An American TV show that ruffled Thailand’s government is just fiction, the U.S. embassy said Tuesday (20 November 2018) as it responded to questions about the flap…. A fictional portrayal of the Thai government was the subject of a recent episode of the political drama Madam Secretary that aired on the CBS television network on Nov. 4. But the instalment dealt with the real-life issue of Lese-Majeste – the Thai law that guards strictly against defaming the country’s powerful royalty.” 

 

New Naratif: “Weaponising the Internet in Thailand” 

“Convictions have been rare since the 2017 amendments to the Computer Crimes Act, but free speech advocates still say that the very existence and breadth of the law can have a chilling effect. This is because there doesn’t need to be a conviction for the Computer Crimes Act to have an impact on people’s lives … In the past, computer crimes charges were tacked on to more serious crimes like lese majeste (insulting the monarchy) or sedition, but observers now believe that the regime is beginning to use the Computer Crimes Act itself as a political weapon.” 

 

Vietnam 

Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Vietnam: End Crackdown on Freedom of Expression” 

“Vietnam should drop all charges against human rights campaigner Huynh Thuc Vy, who faces trial under article 276 of the 1999 penal code for allegedly disrespecting the national flag, Human Rights Watch said today (20 November 2018). She faces up to three years imprisonment if convicted by the People’s Court of Buon Ho town, Dak Lak province at trial on November 22.” 

 

The New York Times: “Exile Won’t Stop Vietnamese Blogger From Highlighting Abuses” 

“(Nguyen Ngoc Nhu) Quynh said she will continue highlighting abuses in Vietnam as she and her 12-year-old daughter Nam, her six-year-old son Gau and her 62-year-old mother settle into their new lives…. Since arriving in the U.S., Quynh has traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet U.S. government and European Union officials as well as journalists. On Tuesday, she was one of five journalists who received the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists at a ceremony in New York.” 

See also: 

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “CPJ is honored to present its 2018 International Press Freedom Award to Vietnamese journalist Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh.” 

 

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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