WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (18 – 24 March 2017)

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)

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)
“[Statement] NUJP to DOT Sec. Teo: Media just doing its job on reporting about EJKs



VOA Khmer: “Civil Society Groups Express Concerns Over Restrictive Laws

“Civil society groups in Cambodia have expressed concerns over increasing restrictions placed on them since the passage of laws governing NGOs and unions…. The groups were speaking on Thursday (16 March 2017) at an annual meeting of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC), a coalition of some 160 civil society groups.”



Human Rights Watch (HRW): “Indonesia Steamrolls Media Freedom in Papua, Again

“French journalists Jean Frank Pierre and Basille Marie Longhamp learned firsthand last week the Indonesian authorities’ contempt for media freedom in its ‘Forbidden Island’ provinces of Papua and West Papua (commonly referred to as ‘Papua’)…. Indonesian police detained and then deported the two reporters, who were filming a documentary for Indonesia’s Garuda Airlines, for lacking ‘necessary documents from related institutions,’ without elaborating. The authorities have barred the two journalists from returning to Indonesia for at least six months to ensure they get the message.”



New Straits Times: “Activist Lena Hendry fined RM10k for screening documentary without LPF approval

“Activist Lena Hendry was today fined RM10,000 in default one year’s jail by the magistrate’s court for screening a documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war without prior approval from the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia (LPF).”

See also:

Malay Mail Online: “Activist avoids jail, fined RM10,000 for showing unapproved movie
Free Malaysia Today: “NGOs screen controversial Sri Lankan civil war documentary
Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Malaysia’s censorship of Sri Lankan civil war documentary


Nurul Izzah Anwar: (Statement) “The Speaker’s Decision to Block Journalists at Parliament Lobby is Disgraceful

“Pandikar’s new ruling reduces the efficiency of both members of the press and of Parliament. The vastly increased distance between the new media centre and the Parliament’s sitting area lessens the media’s ability to interact directly with our Members of Parliament (MPs) and federal ministers. Yet, it is crucial for journalists to obtain and verify information right from its sources — oftentimes the MPs and cabinet members themselves — to ensure the delivery of credible and trustworthy news to the rakyat. Similarly, as an MP, it is inconvenient and a waste of time to travel between distant locations to fulfil both our responsibilities to attend parliamentary sitting and conduct press briefings. It seems timely to remind Pandikar that for the MPs and cabinet members to be answerable to the rakyat who elected them, the media must be allowed to act effectively as the conduit between.”

See also:

Malaysiakini: “NUJ raps Pandikar’s ban, calls it a crackdown on journalists
Malay Mail Online: “Speaker’s media ban a crackdown on access to info, says journalists union
The Independent: “Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia condemns media ban


The Star Online: “Happy ending to Beauty and the Beast controversy

“Just like the fairy tale itself, the controversy over Disney’s live-action film Beauty and the Beast will have a happy ending in Malaysia…. According to an industry insider, the movie has been approved for release in Malaysia with a rating of PG13 from March 30 onwards. The movie will be shown in its entirety without any cuts.”

See also:

Channel News Asia: “‘Gay moment’ stays put as Malaysia to release Beauty and the Beast without cuts
Malay Mail Online: “People can call us stupid, LPF chair says amid ‘Beauty’ censorship



The Irrawaddy: “Myanmar Now Journalist Faces Another Lawsuit

“A Rangoon resident filed a lawsuit against Myanmar Now chief correspondent Ko Swe Win on Monday (20 March 2017) – the second he has faced this month – accusing the reporter of insulting Buddhism…. Kyimyindaing Township resident Ko Thet Myo Oo, who described himself as an ‘active nationalist’ and Buddhist in The Standard Time Daily, asked Kyauktada Township court to charge Ko Swe Win under a suitable provision of Burma’s Penal Code.”


The Irrawaddy. “Analysis: State Media’s Untold Stories

“…(Burma’s Information Minister) U Pe Myint’s mission for change has not been completed, even as the NLD (National League for Democracy) government is about to complete one year in office at the end of this month. The three state-run newspapers—The Mirror, Myanma Alinn Daily and The Global New Light of Myanmar—under U Pe Myint’s control have still failed to report on some major news events that made national headlines in private dailies.”


Mizzima: “Media Development in Myanmar – Planning for the Future

“With respect to developing policy, here are some key lessons to shape ongoing media reform in Myanmar. It is important that a comprehensive media policy articulates a long-term vision for a vibrant, independent and accountable media. Such a policy ought to address issues of fair and legal mechanisms related to freedom of expression and media functioning; measures for fostering mutual accountability of media and the government; independent regulatory bodies for various media segments with parliamentary oversight; fostering a competitive environment by ending the monopoly of government controlled media; creating an investment climate for private sector media, particularly small and medium entrepreneurs as well as ethnic media; and finally measures to address financial viability and sustainability.”



Rappler.com: “How serious is the Duterte administration about FOI?

“Three months into implementation, has the government disclosed more information to the public?… From Rappler’s experience, some agencies did improve but there are those that remained laggards when it comes to requests for critical information…. Unfortunately, the agency that has not been complying with the executive order is the one at the center of the Duterte administration’s controversial ‘war on drugs’: the Philippine National Police (PNP).”


ABS-CBN News: “Tourism chief urges VP, media to ‘tone down’ talk on EJKs

“Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo on Wednesday (22 March 2017) urged Vice President Leni Robredo and the media to ‘tone down’ reports on extrajudicial killings as it raises security and safety concerns among potential tourists.”


The Straits Times: “Smartphone boom driving jump in digital payments in the Philippines

“Just one in 10 Filipinos transact online via their bank accounts, although half the nation’s population of 102 million are already using the internet…. A boom in mobile phone use, though, could soon change things…. The Philippines is the fastest-growing smartphone market in South-east Asia. There are currently 40 million Filipinos with smartphones and that number is forecast to hit 90 million by 2021.”



Prachatai English. “The consequences of reporting in Thailand: prosecuted Prachatai reporter

“Between 21-24 March 2017, Ratchaburi Provincial Court will hold witness hearings for and against the criminal case of Taweesak Kerdpoka, 25, a Prachatai journalist. Taweesak, along with four student activists, was accused of violating Thailand’s Referendum Act while reporting on villagers summoned to a local police station.”


The Nation: “Thaksin files defamation complaint against two TV hosts

“Ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra filed a defamation complaint on Friday (24 March 2017) against two TV hosts for linking him to the recent raid for weapons in Pathum Thani.”


Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), Sinar Project, and the Thai Netizen Network: “The State of Internet Censorship in Thailand

“Multiple censorship events have been reported in Thailand over the last decade, particularly since the latest military coup in the country in May 2014, involving the blocking of news outlets and sites that express political criticism…. The objective of this study is to gain a better understanding of internet censorship events in Thailand through the collection and analysis of network measurements.”


The Nation: “Lese majeste trial for ‘Pai Dao Din’ begins

“Activist Jatupat ‘Pai Dao Din’ Boonpatraraksa faced his first hearing on Tuesday (21 March 2017) for alleged violations of the Computer Crime Act and the lese majeste law at the Khon Kaen Provincial Court.”

See also:

Cases against ‘Pai Dao Din’ could be concluded by November



VN Express: “Vietnam arrests two bloggers on anti-state propaganda charges

“A government statement said Wednesday (22 March 2017) that Bui Hieu Vo, 55, and Phan Kim Khanh, 24, had posted “fabricated, distorted and defamatory information” on their Facebook pages, blogs and YouTube channels, with the help of the U.S.-based Viet Tan – an organization Hanoi has declared a terrorist group.”

See also:

Vietnam Right Now: “Anti-blogger crackdown continues
Defend the Defenders: “Two More Vietnamese Activists Arrested, Charged with Anti-state Propaganda Allegation
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Two bloggers detained for ‘propagandizing against the state’ in Vietnam


VN Express: “Vietnamese internet users baffled as popular Facebook pages vanish

“Many Vietnamese internet-users are scratching their heads over the sudden disappearance of many popular Facebook pages…. In addition, YouTube channels in Vietnam with a large number of subscribers have also been blocked.”


VN Express: “Vietnam wants US connections to prevent anti-gov’t content on the internet

“The Minister of Information and Communications has asked U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius to encourage U.S. enterprises operating in Vietnam to build stronger connections with local authorities in a bid to prevent anti-government information on Facebook and Google…. At a meeting with Osius on Wednesday (22 March 2017), Minister Truong Minh Tuan highlighted a case related to YouTube, in which more than 8,000 videos containing wrongful content and distorted historical facts about Vietnam were found.”



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

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