WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (19 – 25 August 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)

[Cambodia] Government launches systematic attack on independent media

 

Southeast Asia

Bangkok Post: “(Opinion) Asean must embrace Industry 4.0

“Asean countries are advised to focus in particular on the new technologies related to digital economy. However, in order to do so successfully requires overcoming a few key challenges: ensuring that necessary regulation and public infrastructure is in place, developing human resources and intensifying mutual cooperation.”

 

Cambodia

The Cambodia Daily: “Radio Station Shuttered, Daily’s License Rejected

“The Ministry of Information has revoked a license for a radio station known for selling airtime to the opposition party, according to a statement released on Wednesday (23 August 2017), while the director of Voice of Democracy said the outlet had been bumped from the airwaves in Phnom Penh…. The ministry has also refused to renew the media license of The Cambodia Daily until it settles a disputed $6.3 million tax bill that critics say is an attempt to shutdown the paper and curb independent media.”

See also:

Branding Daily a ‘Thief,’ Hun Sen Says Pay Tax or Leave” ; “25 Years of Foreign Press Freedom Under Threat” ; “Voice of Democracy Latest Casualty in Attack on Independent Media
The Phnom Penh Post: “Radio station booted off air” ; “Daily calls for ‘true audit’ as Tax Department refutes challenges” ; “Cambodia Daily given till Sept 4 to pay taxes” ; “Government closes 15 radio stations
Khmer Times: “Publisher accuses the government of a witchhunt” ; “Information Minister denies waging war on critical media” ; “Plug pulled on critics’ airtime
VOA Khmer: “Cambodia Daily Rejects Tax Debt Claim Amid Shutdown Threats
Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Cambodia Rejects Global Criticism of NGO, Media Crackdown as ‘Interference’ in Its Internal Affairs
Reuters: “Cambodia PM orders English-language newspaper to pay taxes or close
The New York Times: “Cambodian Newspapers Faces Closure Over Tax Demand
The Guardian: “Cambodia threatens purge of critical media and US charity
Overseas Press Club of Cambodia: “(Statement) Concern about the possible shutdown of The Cambodia Daily
ABC News: “US chastises Cambodia for curtailing press freedom
United Nations (UN) News Centre. “Cambodia: UN human rights wing concerned by media, civil society curbs
Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Cambodian government cracks down on independent media outlets

 

The Phnom Penh Post: “Daily journos in Ratanakkiri court over election reporting

“Two Cambodia Daily reporters were questioned yesterday (22 August 2017) by the Ratanakkiri Provincial Court over a complaint filed by three locals in the province’s Pate commune during a reporting trip for the recently-concluded commune elections.”

 

Indonesia

South China Morning Post: “Indonesia was supposed to be embracing freedom. What happened?

“It’s been nearly two decades since Indonesian dictator Suharto was toppled in a people-led revolution that was supposed to put the country on the road to full-fledged democracy…. Laws guaranteeing a free press and the protection of rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly were passed in the immediate aftermath of Suharto’s downfall in 1998 – a so-called reformasi (reformation) that was meant to draw a line under the decades of repression that had seen critics of the regime routinely jailed. And for a while, those hopes looked justified, as the country saw a boom in the number of publications and the public embraced its right to protest…. Yet today, amid rising racial and religious tensions, many Indonesians fear the country is regressing towards its dark past…”

 

Malaysia

Free Malaysia Today (FMT): “More freedom now than Dr M’s era? That’s rubbish, Zahid told

“Veteran newsmen say press freedom is worse today than it was during former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s time…. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is wrong in claiming that press freedom is better now than when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was in power, said two veteran newsmen.”

See also:

Malaysiakini. “Zahid: Media freedom better under Najib, than before
The Sun Daily: “Mahathir controlled the media during his era, Zahid claims

 

Malaysiakini. “Watchdog: CMA has overtaken Sedition Act as gag tool of choice

“The Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA) has overtaken the Sedition Act 1948 as the major legal obstacle to freedom of expression in Malaysia, UK-based rights group Article 19 says.”

See also:

The Malaysian Insight: “‘Laws increasingly used’ in Malaysia’s clampdown on free speech

 

Global Voices: “Malaysian Political Cartoonist Zunar Sues Police for Unlawful Arrest, Seizure of Books

“Malaysian cartoonist Zulkiflee S.M. Anwarul Haque, more popularly known as Zunar, has filed a case against the police for arresting him and seizing his cartoon books and t-shirts on December 17, 2016.”

 

Philippines

The New York Times: “Can Fearless Journalism Survive Rodrigo Duterte?

“The de facto clampdown on a free press is a matter of concern to anyone who cares about the ability of the people to speak up against the tightening hold of an authoritarian government. The Philippines is not a country without a conscience. But that conscience needs a voice.”

 

INQUIRER.NET: “Mocha Uson dares Robredo to visit wake of slain cop – a year after death

“Netizens were quick to point out that the article (Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha) Uson used in her tweet was published in 2016…. Uson deleted the tweet but not until it had garnered the attention of netizens, who promptly saved screenshots of the tweet and circulated them on social media.”

See also:

philstar.com: “‘Fire Mocha’ trends after PCOO asec’s latest gaffe
CNN Philippines: “#FireMocha trends on Twitter after another social media gaffe

 

Rappler.com: “Blogger-propagandists, the new crisis managers

“In the same way that President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign depended on bloggers to evaluate online sentiment and generate online buzz in the lead up to the May 2016 presidential elections, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) harnessed the bloggers’ dedication to Duterte, and to this day, depend on them to play the same roles – and more.”

See also:

ABS-CBN News. “Andanar: No bloggers applying for accreditation yet

 

Rappler.com: “In times of crises, be accountable for your stories – veteran journalists

“Transparency and accountability are values that journalists must uphold in trying times…. These were the same values that veteran journalists Tina Monzon-Palma, Cheche Lazaro, and Vergel Santos turned to when they faced crises in their respective careers. The 3 journalists shared their insights on journalism in a Rappler Talk interview on Thursday, August 24.”

 

Manila Bulletin. “FOI success rates: Ranking the agencies

“So is FOI (freedom of Information) alive or dead? For some of the agencies, it seems to me like they are only paying lip service to this executive order (No. 2, series of 2016).”

 

Thailand

The Nation: “Legal group defends journalist in trespass case

“Natthaporn Weeranan, a reporter for the Isranews Agency, was charged after entering an apartment building belonging to Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan, former commissioner general of Royal Thai Police and younger brother of Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan…. An Isranews director, Prasong Lertratanawisute, went with Natthaporn to the Lawyer Council to seek legal help, claiming it was a case against press freedom.”

 

BK: “Journalist facing sedition charges on attitude adjustment and self-censorship

“Pravit Rojanaphruk, 49, is a senior staff writer at Khaosod English who for over 20 years worked as The Nation’s star reporter. On Aug 1, he received a phone call from the Tech Crime Suppression Police, telling him that they were pressing charges against him for Facebook posts made in 2016 and early 2017. He now faces 14 years in jail for sedition. Known for his brave journalism and critique of the current military regime, Pravit has twice been put in ‘attitude adjustment’ camp, once in 2014 and again in 2015. Here, he discusses those experiences and the state of freedom of expression in Thailand.”

 

Bangkok Post: “Defamation case against BBC reporter withdrawn

“A Phuket lawyer has withdrawn a criminal defamation case against a British BBC journalist involving a report on foreigners being defrauded of property, the BBC reports…. The case against Jonathan Head, BBC’s Southeast Asia correspondent, began Wednesday (23 August 2017).”

See also:

The Nation: “BBC journalist on trial for Thailand crime reporting
Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT): “Statement on the dropping of charges against BBC Southeast Asia correspondent

 

Bangkok Post: “Journalists slam use of sedition law

“The Thai Journalists Association (TJA) has issued a statement urging the government to stop violating people’s freedom of expression by invoking Section 116 of the Criminal Code to intimidate the media and the public.”

 

Vietnam

Southeast Asia Globe: “Vietnam looks to bolster its internet censorship

“Following the recent intensification of his country’s crackdown on political dissent, Vietnamese president Tran Dai Quang has argued for the need to develop a more robust internet censorship regime in an article published to a state media website…. Quang said enemies of the state had ‘undermined the prestige of the leaders of the party and the state, with a negative impact on cadres, party members and people’ and that the country needed to ramp up its efforts to quash ‘news sites and blogs with bad and dangerous content’…. The president added that implementing tighter internet controls would protect the country from future cyber attacks similar to the WannaCry virus in May, and help to improve its subpar cybersecurity defences.”

 

NOTE

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

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