WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (19 – 25 March 2016)

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)

Malaysiakini: “CMA amendments will have chilling effect on online media

“Despite government assurances, Bangkok-based Southeast Asian Press Alliance (Seapa) has expressed concern that the proposal to implement an online media registration system is aimed at controlling independent news websites.”


Southeast Asia

eMarketer: “Social Networking Is a Major App Activity in Southeast Asia

“Smartphone users across Southeast Asia are continuing to download a few new apps each month, according to 2015 research. Social networking, along with utilities apps, are likely drivers of this.”



Voice of America: “UN Rights Envoy in Cambodia on 10-day Mission

“Civil society representatives who met with (United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, Rhona) Smith at the outset of her investigation say human rights groups raised concerns over freedom of expression, Internet freedoms, pressure on civil society and the fairness of elections in coming years.”



Makassar Terkini: “Wartawan Disel Karena Diduga Cemarkan Bekas Ketua PWI Sulsel (A journalist faces defamation charges by former head of South Sulawesi Journalists’ Union [PWI])”

The Big City Police Office (Polrestabes) of Makassar, South Sulawesi arrested local journalist Kadir Sijaya on Wednesday, 23 March 2016. After criminal investigators examined the case for about eight and a half hours, Sijaya was charged under the Indonesia Law No. 11/2008 about the Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE). He was arrested for allegedly defaming Honorary Chairman of Sulawesi PWI and former Head of South Sulawesi Journalists Union Zulkifli Gani Ottoh in a Facebook post.


KBR. “Asia Calling Dilarang Mengudara, AJI: Halangi Penyiaran Bisa Kena Sanksi Pidana

Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) secretary general Arfi Bambani said preventing the broadcast of KBR’s feature radio program Asia Calling could lead to a criminal sanction. The Ministry of Communication and Information warned KBR’s affiliate Smart FM for airing Asia Calling’s discussion on LGBT issues.


Coconuts Jakarta: “Film festivals too? Censorship board claims power over *all* movies screened in Indonesia

“The Indonesian Film Censorship Board (LSF) currently gets to take a look at every film that distributors want to show at commercial theaters in order to edit out any parts that don’t fit with their conservative agenda, including not just nudity and excessive violence but also elements such as storylines involving LGBT characters.”


The Jakarta Post: “Rights groups say freedom of expression in decline

“Freedom of expression in the country is in jeopardy, rights groups have warned, as the nation witnessed numerous cases of criminalization over alleged defamation in the past couple of years…”


Suara: “Yosep Adi Prasetyo Terpilih Jadi Ketua Dewan Pers

Yosep Adi Prasetyo is appointed as the chairperson of the Press Council. Yosep, also known as “Stanley,” is a co-founder of the Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (Alliance of Independent Journalists, AJI) and former executive director of the Institut Studi Arus Informasi (Institute for Studies on the Free Flow of Information, ISAI). Both AJI and ISAI are founding members of SEAPA.



The Star Online: “Najib to know on April 7 over bid to include statements in libel suit

“Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will know on April 7 over his bid to include press statements from the Attorney-General and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in his libel suit against Harakah.”


Malaysiakini: “Closure of news portals raises need for media freedom

“The closure of both organisations (The Rakyat Post and The Malaysian Insider) has also shed some light on how news portals function in Malaysia and it ties in with the desire to be free and independent.”

See also:
East Asia Forum: “Malaysia disconnecting from online freedoms
Committee to Protect Journalists: “Closure of news site underscores Malaysia’s press freedom crisis amid 1MDB scandal
Malay Mail Online: “Minister says same procedure used to block news portal, porn sites” ; “Salleh: Proposal to register news portals, blogs sent to AGC
Asian Correspondent. “Malaysia: Local news portals and political blogs may soon have to register with government



Myanmar Times: “NLD outlines broadcast media changes

“The National League for Democracy, which has shed little light so far on its broadcast media policy, has said existing television companies will have to reapply to keep their broadcasting licences while all companies in the private sector will be given an equal chance to compete.”

See also:
DVB: “သတ္မွတ္ကာလအတြင္း ေကာင္စီ မဖြဲ႔ႏိုင္တာေၾကာင့္ ဥပေဒ ခ်ဳိးေဖာက္ေနသလို ျဖစ္ေန (It’s been more than six months since Myanmar’s Broadcast Law was passed, yet the council has not been established. According to the law, the council has to be formed within a six month period after the law was passed.)”

Radio Free Asia: “Myanmar’s Legislature Approves List of Nominees For Cabinet Ministries

Coconuts Yangon: “Myanmar army threatens Facebook users with legal action over ‘defamatory’ posts

“Facebook users who share viral posts identifying a man involved in a row over parking at Yangon’s Yuzana Plaza as a military officer will face prosecution, Myanmar’s army has said.”



Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Witness takes stand, points to Reyes as murder brains

“Rodolfo ‘Bumar’ Edrad Jr., (former Palawan Gov. Joel) Reyes’ former bodyguard, reiterated his claim during direct examination at the sala of Palawan Regional Trial Court Judge Angelo Arizala, that he was ordered by the former governor to devise and execute the plan to kill Ortega, a popular radio broadcaster who had been criticizing Reyes.”


BusinessWorld: “Coalition Failed as Platform for Freedom of Information

“This is where we have a difference of perspective with our government partner in OGP. We believe that a firm commitment to pass the FoI law, and matching such commitment with decisive action, was a necessary and fundamental pillar of a credible OGP action plan. It is an anchor to the main aims of OGP to scale up transparency, empower citizens, and fight corruption.”

See also:
Philippine Daily Inquirer. Editorial: “FOI bravado live



Brisbane Times: “Australian student Ai Takagi sentenced to jail in Singapore for sedition

“Former University of Queensland student Ai Takagi faced a sentencing hearing on Wednesday morning over four charges of sedition, stemming from a website she ran…. That site, the mostly crowd-sourced The Real Singapore, was shut down in May last year after Takagi published four articles likely to ‘promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different groups of people in Singapore’.”

See also:
The New York Times: “Blogger Gets Jail Term in Singapore for Posts Said to Incite Ethnic Hatred
Committee to Protect Journalists: “Singapore court sentences online editor for sedition



Thai PBS: “Court postpones pre-trial hearing of defamation case against a junior citizen journalist

“The Criminal Court today (Monday, 21 March 2016) postponed the preliminary hearing of a defamation case brought against a citizen journalist of Thai PBS TV station and four other people by Thung Kham gold mining company in Loei province.”


Bangkok Post. Editorial: “PM steps up media war

“Attempts by political leaders to intimidate, censor or ‘advise’ the media seldom end happily. Gen Prayut should take the high road.”



Asia Sentinel: “Viet Blogger Heads to Court

“The Hanoi People’s Court is expected to take up the case on Wednesday (23 March 2016) of perhaps Vietnam’s most influential independent blogger, Nguyễn Hữu Vinh (pen name Anh Ba Sam or ‘Brother Gossip’ and his administrative assistant, Nguyễn Minh Thúy, on charges of ‘misusing democratic freedom to encroach on State interests [and] the legitimate rights of groups and individuals’ according to the Vietnamese Criminal Code.”

See also:
Japan Times: “Vietnam blogger on trial for anti-state posts
Radio Free Asia: “Vietnamese Blogger Trial Set for Wednesday
Committee to Protect Journalists: “Vietnamese bloggers imprisoned for ‘abusing democratic freedoms’
Queme. “Vietnam: Imprisonment of blogger and activist condemned
The Star Online: “Vietnam political bloggers jailed for ‘abusing freedom’ – lawyer
Doha Centre for Media Freedom: “Vietnam jails prominent blogger for five years


VN Express International: “Vietnam plans to adopt Law on Access to Information

“Vietnam’s legislators may approve the Law on Access to Information and the amended Law on Press in the last session of the 13th National Assembly, which began on Monday and will run until April 12.”




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

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