Weekly Media Roundup (19 – 25 January 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) 


[Philippines] National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): “NUJP beefs up alert and response system for media victims of violence and harassments ahead of mid-term polls” 



[Indonesia] Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (Alliance of Independent Journalists, AJI): AJI Denounces President Jokowi’s Grant of Remission to Journalist’s Murderer

See also: 

Lighter sentence for convicted killer a ‘step back’ for press freedom


General news 

Data Journalism Awards. “Key trends for data journalism in 2019: machine learning, collaborations, and code art” 

“2018 has been a great year in terms of innovation and large scale collaborations for data journalists worldwide…. Machine learning, sensors, automation and new data sources are becoming more popular.” 


Reuters Institute and University of Oxford: “GLASNOST! Nine ways Facebook can make itself a better forum for free speech and democracy” 

“A platform with more than 2.2 billion users, Facebook has found itself at the epicentre of many of the ongoing conversations about digital media, technology policy, and democracy. Following multiple controversies in the past two years, Facebook is seeking to implement much needed processes for self-regulation and governance to help regain the trust of the public, politicians, and regulatory authorities. Facebook has thus entered a new era of cautious glasnost, inviting researchers to look ‘under the hood’ of various aspects of its operations, and understand how it formulates and implements its policies. This short report aims to build on these developments by identifying some specific issues concerning political information and speech on Facebook, providing an overview of the major changes that Facebook has made in recent years in response to public criticism, and critically assessing these changes, offering suggestions as to what more the company should do.” 


Southeast Asia 

South China Morning Post: “Facebook, WhatsApp target fake news for Asia’s election season, but is it too little, too late?” 

“Facebook and its subsidiary WhatsApp have promised to get tougher on ‘fake news’ ahead of key elections in Asia, but critics question whether the new policies can stop viral disinformation from influencing the outcomes. Both companies have faced outrage over issues related to misuse and accountability, and this year’s polls could prove a crucial test of the region’s trust.” 


Philippine News Agency (PNA): “PH, Myanmar ink MOU on media cooperation, info sharing” 

“The Philippine and Myanmarese governments on Friday (25 January 2019) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish stronger mechanisms for information sharing and media cooperation…. Signing the document in Malacañang were Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar for the Philippines and Union Minister Pe Myint for Myanmar’s Ministry of Information…. During the occasion, Myint said the signing signifies strengthened communication between the two states and the creation of more avenues to improve Myanmar-Philippines ties.” 

See also: 

MOU with Myanmar on info cooperation to strengthen PH media” 


Entrepreneur: “How E-commerce Rules in Southeast Asia” 

“The Internet economy in Southeast Asia ‘hit an inflection point in 2018,’ and is likely to be worth $240 billion by 2025, which is $40 billion more than earlier estimates. This rise can be attributed to the world’s most engaged mobile Internet users, and industries like e-commerce, online media, online travel and ride-hailing, which have grown at an unprecedented rate.” 

See also: 

The ASEAN Post: “How 5G can transform Southeast Asia” 



Voice of America (VOA) Khmer: “Gov’t Warns Media of Repercussions for Journalists Who Write About the ‘Hun Sen Regime’” 

“Cambodia has said that journalists who describe the government as ‘Hun Sen’s regime’ or the ‘Phnom Penh regime’ may face investigation from authorities…. Interior Minister Sar Kheng said journalists using these terms ‘do not respect the will of the Cambodian people, who turned out to vote’.” 



The Jakarta Post: “Activists urge Jokowi to retract remission for journalist’s murderer” 

“Journalists and rights activists across Indonesia were outraged by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s move to grant remission to I Nyoman Susrama, the mastermind behind the murder of Anak Agung Gde Bagus Narendra Prabangsa, a Radar Bali daily journalist, calling on the incumbent to annul the decision.” 

See also: 

AJI Denpasar lambasts Jokowi for granting remission to journalist’s murderer” 

TEMPO.CO: “AJI Denpasar Condemn Jokowi Granting Pardon for Reporter’s Killer” 


The Jakarta Post: “Book raid threat to freedom of speech” 

“Scholars and publishers have expressed concern over the government’s escalating campaign against left-leaning literature, deeming the policy misguided and a threat to freedom of expression in the country…. The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and the Indonesian Military (TNI) are reportedly planning to hold a ‘large-scale’ raid on books tackling the subject of communism and anything related to the 1965 purge, a move which appears to be aimed at preventing any possible revival of the long-defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), which is, nevertheless, perceived by the government as a ‘latent danger’.” 


Nikkei Asian Review: “Indonesia wants 20 more unicorns like Go-Jek and Tokopedia by 2025” 

“The Indonesian government’s focus at the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos is not the rich natural resources that bring in billions of dollars every year. It wants to highlight the country’s startups, especially those working with in digital technology. The country has a specific target to drive its efforts — 20 new unicorns, or privately held companies worth over $1 billion, by 2025.” 


The Jakarta Post: “Tributes pour in for senior journalist Ging Ginanjar” 

“Ging Ginanjar, a senior BBC Indonesia journalist and co-founder of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), died at the age of 55 on Sunday (20 January 2019), eliciting expressions of grief from many fellow journalists and pro-democracy activists…. Ging was active in the pro-democracy movement toward the end of former president Soeharto’s New Order in the 1990s and spent some time in jail after participating in the Indonesian People’s Congress (KRI) in 1998.” 

See also: 

BBC. “BBC journalist Ging Ginanjar: A giant of Indonesia’s battle for press freedom” 



Insider: “People in Malaysia are being threatened with prison for tweeting mean things about their royal family” 

“People in Malaysia are being threatened with prison for criticizing their monarchy on social media, with the government considering introducing harsher penalties for them…. This month alone, police arrested two men and one woman on charges of tweeting comments that were allegedly insulting to Sultan Muhammed V after he abdicated as the country’s ruler on January 6.” 

See also: 

BenarNews: “Pahang Sultan Named Malaysia’s New King” 


MalayMail: “Armed Forces studying potential security threats from use of 5G technology” 

“The Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) is currently reviewing and identifying any security threats to the country from the use of fifth-generation (5G) of cellular mobile technology before it is adopted in the country…. MAF chief Gen Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin said the results of the study would be submitted to the Government to decide whether the technology should be deployed here.” 



World Politics Review (WPR). “Myanmar’s Message to Journalists: Don’t Cover the Crackdown on the Rohingya” 

“Earlier this month, a court in Myanmar upheld the seven-year prison sentences of two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were convicted in September under the British colonial-era Official Secrets Act while reporting on atrocities committed against the Rohingya ethnic minority. The case shows the barriers to reporting in Myanmar, especially on politically sensitive investigations involving the powerful military, despite some positive steps to relax media restrictions since the country transitioned from direct military rule and initiated major political reforms in 2011. In an email interview, Melissa Crouch, a professor of law and Southeast Asia specialist at the University of New South Wales in Australia, discusses how the media landscape has evolved in Myanmar and the threats that journalists still face there.” 


Frontier Myanmar: “(Opinion) It’s time to get rid of criminal defamation” 

“In each of these cases, and in many others, we will never know the extent to which the allegations are true or false because criminal law requires the state to automatically support those claiming to have been defamed. If defamation is a criminal offence, then the state has an obligation to use police to investigate and state prosecutors to fight the case in court, whereas if it is a civil matter it is up to the aggrieved to hire a lawyer and find evidence. Faced with the sheer muscle of the state and its bottomless budget, who can blame a complainant for withdrawing their complaint? It is likely that such situations are the tip of the iceberg. Imagine how many people have considered making an allegation of corruption but have been put off for fear of going to prison for defamation.” 


Free Expression Myanmar: “3rd Digital Rights Forum calls for better regulated, freer, safer online space” 

“The third Myanmar Digital Rights Forum concluded on 19 January in Yangon with a call for new policy and regulation that would safeguard digital rights in Myanmar, and a fully consultative process to achieve this.” 



GMA News: “Journalists begin year-long remembrance of 2009 Maguindanao massacre” 

“Members of the press gathered at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City on Wednesday (23 January 2019) to remember their comrades killed in what has been described as the single deadliest attack on journalists in the world: the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre…. Fifty-eight people, including 32 journalists, were brutally killed in the bloodbath which is also considered the worst incident of election-related violence in Philippine history.” 


Rappler.com. “EXCLUSIVE: Russian disinformation system influences PH social media” 

“Russian disinformation and network systems have penetrated social media in the Philippines, tapping so-called ‘experts’ to lend legitimacy and credibility to false information being peddled and spread online…. Rappler has found links between the disinformation ecosystem in the Philippines to Russia and the St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), a state-sponsored troll farm…. Among these links is an alleged ‘geopolitical expert’ named Adam Garrie, who writes for websites known to spread misleading claims, and who has been quoted extensively in online posts and interviewed by news networks with links to Iran and Russia.” 


INQUIRER.net: “Data breach hits Cebuana Lhuillier, around 900k clients affected” 

“The management of the pawnshop and remittance company Cebuana Lhuillier admitted on Saturday (19 January 2019) that one of its email servers being used for marketing purposes had been breached, compromising the data of about 900,000 of their clients…. According to Cebuana Lhuillier, they had discovered that the data stored in their email for their marketing initiatives had been breached, but not the transaction details or information.” 

See also: 

NPC starts probe on Cebuana Lhuillier data breach” 


Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Senate blocks funds for China CCTV project” 

“The Senate has added provisions to its version of the P3.8-trillion proposed national budget for 2019 that would block payment for a China-funded public surveillance project of the Duterte administration that has raised security concerns…. The P20-billion Safe Philippines project involves installing security cameras in public places in Metro Manila and Davao City and monitoring them from a central command center.” 

See also: 

WHAT WENT BEFORE: China CCTV project in PH” 


INQUIRER.net: “FB cracks down on fake accounts, fake news to keep PH ‘election integrity’” 

“Facebook will continue to take down fake accounts and stop the distribution of fake news to assure ‘election integrity’ in the Philippines, said Katie Harbath, director of Facebook’s Global Politics and Government Outreach Team on Thursday (24 January 2019)…. Harbath said Facebook will promote election integrity as issues on fake news are more heightened during election periods.” 

See also: 

Rappler.com: “Elections in Philippines a ‘top priority’ – Facebook” 



The Straits Times: “Blogger Leong Sze Hian applies to court to strike out PM Lee defamation claim, says lawyer” 

“Blogger Leong Sze Hian, who is being sued by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for defamation, has filed an application to the courts on Friday (Jan 25) to strike out PM Lee’s claim against him…. The move is the latest development in a libel suit that started in November when PM Lee commenced legal action against Mr Leong. It is in relation to Mr Leong sharing on his Facebook page an article alleging PM Lee had helped to launder money from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund…. In a statement on Friday, Mr Leong’s lawyer, Carson Law Chambers’ Lim Tean, gave three reasons as grounds for the application.” 

See also: 

Blogger seeks to strike out PM’s claim in libel suit” 

The Online Citizen (TOC): “Leong Sze Hian files an application to strike out PM Lee’s defamation against him” 

The Independent: “Leong Sze Hian applies to strike out PM Lee’s defamation claim ‘on the grounds that it is scandalous, frivolous and vexatious’” 

Channel NewsAsia: “Blogger Leong Sze Hian to file application to strike out PM Lee’s defamation claim” 

TODAY: “Blogger Leong Sze Hian seeks to strike out PM Lee’s defamation suit” 


The Independent: “‘NUS should drop the legal challenge against TODAY’ – Veteran journalist and NUS employee” 

“Veteran journalist Bertha Henson has asserted in a recent blog post that the National University of Singapore (NUS) should drop the legal challenge it is pursuing against Mediacorp’s flagship English publication, TODAY online…. NUS confirmed over the weekend that it is seeking legal advice over an article published by TODAY Online, entitled ‘Opaque policies, fixation with KPIs, rankings: Why arts and humanities academics quit NUS, NTU’, since it finds that the piece ‘affected its reputation’.” 

See also: 

Bertha Harian: “No lawyers please, we’re academics” 


Singapore: “Daily Mail reporter barred from making visits to British drug smuggler in Singapore after unauthorised interview” 

“A journalist with the Daily Mail will be denied further visits to British drug smuggler Yuen Ye Ming, after conducting an unauthorised interview with him in Singapore, said the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) on Wednesday (Jan 23) … The Daily Mail interview with Yuen was conducted by journalist Stephen Wright, who spoke to him on Jan 18 via video link from the Prison Link Centre in Geylang Bahru.” 



Khaosod English: “In first, election rules to limit social media campaigning” 

“New campaign rules implemented yesterday alongside an actual poll date covered everything from how much money can be spent and the wording of campaign posters to a ban on hosting “entertainment” to a political party’s advantage…. And for the first time in history, for the first election since it became the main platform for unfettered discourse, social media is covered by the regulations. Parties must notify the Election Commission what messages they will put out on which platforms for how long before they begin. Infractions may result in “red cards” disqualifying the contenders from running.” 

See also: 

The Guardian: “Thailand’s military junta cracks down on social media ahead of election” 


Al Jazeera. “Threats and abuse: Critics fear effect of new Thailand cyber law” 

“Thailand is expected to soon pass a new cybersecurity law which will create a government agency with sweeping powers of search and seizure, triggering concerns for freedom of expression and data security among civil society and business groups as elections loom…. But experts involved in drafting the bill say they have taken their worries into consideration.” 


ComputerWeekly.com: “Thailand pushes for Industry 4.0 in ASEAN” 

“Thailand will make a bigger push to drive the region’s move towards Industry 4.0 during its chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional grouping this year…. Speaking at the Special Session on the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Bangkok last week, Thailand’s minister of commerce, Sontirat Sotijirawong, said five out of its 12 deliverables would be focused on spurring Industry 4.0 developments across the region.” 

See also: 

Bangkok Post: “Thailand in need of ‘Energy 4.0’” 



ASEAN Today: “Vietnam says Facebook violated new law by not removing anti-government content” 

“State-run media in Vietnam is reporting that Facebook has violated a new cybersecurity law. According to Vietnam’s Ministry of Communication and Information, Facebook did not respond to a request from the Vietnamese government to remove content and pages that were allegedly ‘provoking activities against the state….’ Facebook’s non-compliance represents a break from the norm, as the company has so far sought to please the Vietnamese government.” 



All information and materials in this roundup are for general information and use only and do not constitute any advice or recommendation. 

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