Weekly Media Roundup (2 – 8 February 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) 


[Cambodia] Journalist beaten to death in Kratie province


[Myanmar] Facebook ramps up ban on hate mongers’ accounts


[Philippines] Justice department to indict Rappler for cyber libel

See also: 

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): “(Statement) Rappler cyberlibel indictment endangers freedom of the press, expression” 


Cyber attack downs NUJP site twice

See also: 

Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): “After Alternative News Sites, NUJP Website Also Attacked” 


[Vietnam] Radio Free Asia blogger goes missing after seeking refugee status in Thailand



National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): “DDoS attacks on alternative news sites meant to stifle criticism, dissent” 




Cambodia, Myanmar mirror decline of democracy in Southeast Asia


IFEX. “Asia-Pacific in January: Cambodia’s third UPR, Thailand’s ‘Twitter storm’, and Pakistan’s transgender pride march” 


[Indonesia] President Jokowi revokes commutation of death sentence for convicted journalist killer


National Press Day ‘more ceremonial’ than substantive – AJI


Women journalists tell their stories in new book


[Laos] Poisoned fish worries village as Sangthong district promotes good agricultural practices


Left to fend for themselves


[Philippines] Romancing storms, worms and leaves: Growing tobacco in the shadow of environmental perils in Misor


Romancing storms, worms and leaves: Growing native ‘batek’ in the shadow of environmental perils


[Thailand] In run-up to next election, media must step up its game — says forum


Southeast Asia 

Nikkei Asian Review: “(Opinion) Southeast Asia’s internet needs a light touch” 

“Southeast Asia has made positive strides recently in supporting the development of the region’s fast-growing internet economy with effective regulation…. But despite a lot of helpful political rhetoric, the legislative landscape tells a contradictory story. The region needs to move quickly to create a common digital economy and avoid divisive national rules.” 



The Phnom Penh Post: “Police have clues on journo’s murder” 

“Kratie provincial police on Tuesday (5 February 2019) said they have some clues about the murder of a journalist in Snuol district’s Pi Thnou commune and are working to identify the suspects…. Deputy provincial police chief Suos Chamroeun said 18-year-old Sorn Sithy, a reporter at the Battambang Post, was killed in the early hours of February 4 while on his way from a dance party with two other friends.” 

See also: 

Khmer Times: “Journalist killed after wedding” 


The Phnom Penh Post: “Government rejects ‘not free’ rating” 

“A government official on Thursday (7 February 2019) criticised a report which ranked Cambodia as ‘not free’, saying it concentrated only on the political aspects while ignoring the fact that ‘freedom’ had various other dimensions to it…. Calling the report biased, Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said: ‘The report concentrates on the political aspects only, such as the enforcement of the law on civil society groups, media, and political parties.’” 

See also: 

Khmer Times: “Human rights track record defended despite international criticism” 



The Jakarta Post: “On National Press Day, Jokowi reverses decision to commute life sentence of journalist killer” 

“After mounting public protests, President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo has reversed the decision to commute the life sentence of I Nyoman Susrama, who was convicted of the murder of Radar Bali daily journalist Anak Agung Gede Narendra Prabangsa, to 20 years’ imprisonment…. President Jokowi confirmed the report during National Press Day in Surabaya, East Java, on Saturday (9 February 2019), meaning that Nyoman must serve his life sentence.” 

See also: 

Asia Pacific Report: “No progress on press freedom, impunity under Jokowi’s watch” 


South China Morning Post: “Indonesia looks to ban negative ‘foreign’ musical influences, leaving hundreds of musicians horrified” 

“Hundreds of musicians in Indonesia have lashed out against what they say is a ludicrous draft law that could ‘destroy’ freedom of expression…. Among the most contentious aspects of the draft is Article 5, which outlaws ‘negative foreign influences’ as well as blasphemous or pornographic content, punishable by imprisonment or a fine.” 


The Jakarta Post: “Atta Halilintar named Southeast Asia’s first YouTuber with 10 million subscribers” 

“Muhammad Attamimi ‘Atta’ Halilintar has been named the first YouTuber in Southeast Asia to get more than 10 million subscribers…. Having uploaded videos on his channel since 2016, Atta posted a celebration on his achievement on YouTube on Feb. 5.” 



Malaysiakini: “After settling suit, PAS maintains S’wak Report has no proof on RM90m” 

“PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man maintained that Sarawak Report has no proof over claims that BN paid the Islamist party RM90 million for its support…. This was after PAS withdrew its defamation suit against Sarawak editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown over the article as part of an out-of-court settlement.” 

See also: 

Hadi to settle Sarawak Report suit out of court” ; “S’wak Report editor pleased article on PAS’ RM90m stays despite settlement” 



The Washington Post: “Myanmar’s Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi could release 2 jailed journalists. She has not.” 

“Suu Kyi could order a pardon through her control of the presidency…. But that appears improbable, according to interviews with almost a dozen diplomats, government officials and others who have privately raised the case with her. They suggest it is Suu Kyi, not the country’s powerful military, playing the most pivotal role in keeping the journalists behind bars.” 


Facebook Newsroom: “Banning More Dangerous Organizations from Facebook in Myanmar” 

“Today (5 February 2019), we are taking more action, designating four more groups in Myanmar as dangerous organizations – the Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, Kachin Independence Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army. These armed groups are now banned from Facebook and all related praise, support and representation will be removed as soon as we become aware of it…. In an effort to prevent and disrupt offline harm, we do not allow organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or engage in violence to have a presence on Facebook.” 

See also: 

Frontier Myanmar: “Facebook bans Northern Alliance armed groups, calls them ‘dangerous organizations’” 


Reuters: “Myanmar activists charged after protesting independence hero statue” 

“Dozens of activists in eastern Myanmar face charges of unlawful assembly, an activist leader said on Friday (8 February 2019), after police broke up the latest protest against a statue of Aung San, the nation’s independence hero and father of leader Aung San Suu Kyi…. Police arrested 36 people on Thursday outside the headquarters of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party in the Kayah state capital of Loikaw, said Di Di, spokesman for the Karenni Youth Force Protest Camp Committee.” 



Rappler.com: “Despite NBI flip-flop, DOJ to indict Rappler for cyber libel” 

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recommended the filing in court of cyber libel charges against Rappler Incorporated, its CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa, and former researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr over a story published in May 2012 – 4 months before the law that they allegedly violated was enacted…. In a January 10 decision that Rappler obtained on Monday, February 4, 3 DOJ prosecutors ruled in favor of businessman Wilfredo D. Keng, who first complained at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in October 2017 over what he said was a malicious story written by Santos and published by Rappler on May 29, 2012, at the height of the impeachment trial of then-chief justice Renato Corona.” 

See also: 

Journalists, institutions decry ‘absurd legal attack’ against Rappler” 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Philippine website accused of libel in seven-year-old article” 

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ): “Rappler indicted on libel charges in the Philippines” 

PEN America: “Charges Against Philippines Journalist Maria Ressa an Affront to Free Expression” 

Amnesty International (AI): “Yet another absurd legal attack against Rappler and Maria Ressa in the Philippines” 


Rappler.com: “Who were targets of disinformation in 2018?” 

“There were many false and misleading claims made online and in real life last year, most of which were used to harm influential people and their reputations…. According to data gathered over an 8-month period from Rappler’s fact-check stories (April to December 2018), the Aquinos took the biggest hit that year, followed by critics of the Marcoses and Martial Law, and then the Catholic Church.” 


Rappler.com. “Jiggy Manicad: Duterte’s attacks vs media just his ‘style’” 

“Former broadcast journalist and now senatorial candidate Jiggy Manicad said that while President Rodrigo Duterte’s public threats against some media outlets are ‘verbal attacks,’ they are just part of the Chief Executive’s ‘style.’ Manicad said this while trying to clarify his recent controversial remarks about press freedom in a The Leader I Want interview with Rappler, one of the subjects of Duterte’s repeated attacks.” 

See also: 

ABS-CBN News: “UPLB ComArts denounce alumnus Jiggy Manicad over press freedom stand” 

Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Study more, UP prof tells journalist seeking Senate seat” 


The Philippine Star. “Comelec to poll bets: Register blogs, websites” 

“In an attempt to regulate the use of social media in the May 13 midterm polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ordered all political parties and candidates to report their official blogs, websites and social media pages…. Based on Resolution 10488 promulgated last Jan. 30, each registered political party and candidate shall register with the agency’s Education and Information Division their internet, mobile and social media platforms.” 

See also: 

Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Candidates ordered to register websites” 


INQUIRER.net: “Palace awaits Congress leadership change in push for FOI bill – exec” 

“A Palace official on Wednesday (6 February 2019) said Malacañang would push for the passage of the long-awaited freedom of information (FOI) bill in the next Congress, one of the priority legislation of President Rodrigo Duterte…. ‘We’re setting our sights on the next Congress under a new leadership,’ Communications Assistant Secretary and FOI executive director Kris Ablan said in a text message to INQUIRER.net.” 



The Straits Times: “Former Thai princess Ubolratana’s political move raises questions over lese majeste law” 

“Thailand’s monarchy is protected by one of the world’s toughest royal defamation laws, making detailed discussion about the family’s role almost impossible inside the kingdom…. Former Thai princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi’s entry on Friday (Feb 8) as a candidate for prime minister in March elections raises questions about how the media can cover her campaign, and even how analysts or the public can discuss her publicly.” 


The Nation: “Skilfully retouched temple statue images almost land celebrated photographer Chub in hot water” 

“A set of retouched images by renowned Thai photographer Chub Nokkaew of Wat Arun’s iconic statues wearing face masks was apparently so skilfully made that it almost resulted in him facing a criminal charge … Bangkok Yai precinct superintendent Pol Colonel Jarupat Thongkomol confirmed on Tuesday that the case had been closed following the photographer’s explanation and apology to the temple, and the photographer was deemed to have had neither the intention to insult nor cause damage.” 


Bangkok Post: “‘Pai’ likely to be released soon” 

“Activist Jatupat ‘Pai Dao Din’ Boonpattararaksa may be released from prison soon after a military court dropped two illegal assembly cases against him and six other activists…. The court decision came after the junta abolished its 2014 announcement criminalising political assembly of more than five people on Dec 11 last year ahead of the general election.” 



Asia Pacific Report: “Timor-Leste Press Council condemns ‘crime’ against public broadcaster” 

“Timor-Leste’s Press Council (TLPC) has strongly condemned political interference in the country’s public broadcasting service (RTTL) newsroom where political-appointed advisers for the president of RTTL have interfered in its coverage…. During a press conference at the TLPC’s offices in Dili, chairperson Virgílio Guterres said it was the first political interference in RTTL’s newsroom since country’s restoration of independence.” 

See also: 

Sacked head of Timor-Leste state broadcaster claims ‘political axe’” 



Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Radio Free Asia Vietnamese Blogger Missing Amid Abduction Reports” 

“A Radio Free Asia blogger from Vietnam is missing after he fled to Thailand to seek political asylum with a UN refugee agency, fueling fears in the exile community that he has been abducted by Vietnamese security agents…. There has been no word from Truong Duy Nhat, a weekly contributor for RFA’s Vietnamese Service’s blog section, since Jan. 26. He last communicated with Washington-based RFA editors two days earlier over his commentary on the growing opposition movement in Venezuela and the prospects of change in Communist-ruled Vietnam.” 

See also: 

The Straits Times: “Thailand to investigate disappearance of Vietnamese asylum seeker” 

South China Morning Post: “Vietnamese radio blogger Truong Duy Nhat missing in Thailand, raising concerns he has been abducted by authorities” 

The Guardian: “Vietnamese blogger vanishes after fleeing to Thailand” 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Well-known Vietnamese blogger missing in Bangkok” 

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “CPJ calls on Thailand to account for missing Vietnamese blogger” 

Amnesty International. “Thailand: Investigate reports of abducted Vietnamese journalist” 



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