Weekly Media Roundup (2 – 8 March 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] Gov’t, media can’t play fast, loose with due process and rule of law


[Singapore] Activist in hot water for posting photo; alleged offense tantamount to ‘illegal assembly’


[Thailand] Pullout of host from election debate show an infringement of press freedom, broadcast group says



[Myanmar] Drop defamation charges against journalist Ko Swe Win and repeal Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law Press Release



[Regional] On International Women’s Day, a Sobering Reality for Female Journalists

See also: 

From cheap shots, sexist innuendo to downright threats, women in media are having a tough time

‘A media without women is only half the story’

Hope, Courage, and Resilience: Women Journalists Tell Their Stories


IFEX. “Journalists face growing persecution, an impunity win in Indonesia, and much more…” 


[Malaysia] National consultation for a media council concludes in Kuala Lumpur

See also: 

Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ): “Outcome from the National Consultation on a Malaysian Media Council” 


[Philippines] Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): “Court Resets Arraignment of Rappler CEO, Former Researcher” 



Warnings, sanction vs Voice TV


สมาคมนักข่าวนักหนังสือพิมพ์แห่งประเทศไทย (Thai Journalists Association, TJA): “วันนี้ (4 มีนาคม) สมาคมนักข่าวนักหนังสือพิมพ์แห่งประเทศไทย จัดให้มีการประชุมใหญ่ประจำปี โดยมีการเลือกตั้งนายกสมาคมนักข่าวนักหนังสือพิมพ์คนใหม่ ผลปรากฏว่า ที่ประชุมใหญ่เลือกนายมงคล บางประภา ผู้สื่อข่าวหนังสือพิมพ์บางกอกโพสต์ เป็นนายกสมาคมนักข่าวฯ (TJA announced its newly elected executive board yesterday, 4 March 2019. Bangkok Post senior political reporter Mongkol Bangprapa is the new president.)” 



Khmer Times: “PM pushes for anti-fake news law” 

“Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday (4 March 2019) called on ministries to consider creating an anti-fake news law and speed up the draft of an anti-cybercrime law that was initiated in the government’s previous mandate…. Mr Hun Sen’s call was made just a week after his Facebook account was allegedly hacked and a post said that the social media platform would soon be blocked in the Kingdom.” 


The Phnom Penh Post: “First of nine chapters agreed on for draft information law” 

“An inter-ministerial meeting to review the draft Access to Information Law led by Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith on Thursday (7 March 2019) reached an agreement on the first of nine chapters…. The process to draft the law, to include 38 articles over nine chapters, began in 2013…. The Ministry of Information is leading the draft procedure with the participation of Unesco, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Club of Cambodian Journalists and civil society organisations.” 


The ASEAN Post: “Cambodia’s youth are in danger” 

“Early last month, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) released the results of a five-week poll involving one million young people together with suggestions from a series of student-led #ENDviolence Youth Talks. The talks were held in more than 160 countries, including Cambodia and among the findings from the poll and youth talks were that 85.7 percent of young Cambodians aged between 15 and 25 years are in danger of online violence, cyberbullying and digital harassment.” 



The Jakarta Post: “WhatsApp messages trap Surabayan housewife in defamation case” 

“A higher court must acquit Saidah Saleh Syamlah, a housewife living in Surabaya, East Java, of all charges of defaming textile company PT Pisma Putra Textile, the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) has said…. On Feb. 26, the Surabaya District Court found Saidah guilty of defaming the textile company by sending text messages through WhatsApp messaging service. The bench sentenced her to 10 months of imprisonment and a fine of Rp 5 million (US$354.55).” 

See also: 

Human Rights Watch (HRW): “Indonesia: Prison for WhatsApp Messages” 


Al Jazeera: “Facebook bans foreign political ads ahead of Indonesia elections” 

“To allay concerns that its platform is being used to manipulate voting behaviour, Facebook has banned political advertisements from outside Indonesia as the world’s third-largest democracy heads to its presidential and legislative elections…. The announcement is a part of the social media giant’s efforts to safeguard ‘election integrity on our platform’ and will be effective from Tuesday (5 March 2019).” 



Malaysiakini: “10 years, 10 months jail for FB post insulting Islam, Prophet” 

“A Facebook account holder was sentenced to a jail term of 10 years and 10 months for posting content deemed insulting to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad…. The holder of Facebook account ‘Ayea Yea’ was one of four individuals who were slapped with multiple charges in Kuching and Kuala Lumpur yesterday (8 March 2019) for similar reasons, according to inspector-general of police Mohamad Fuzi Harun.” 


The Edge Markets: “Positive progress in setting up Malaysia Media Council” 

“The Pakatan Harapan (PH) Government is pleased to see positive progress in the establishment of the Malaysia Media Council (MMC), said the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on Media and Communications  Datuk A. Kadir Jasin…. The veteran newsman said the MMC might be able to be established by this year.” 

See also: 

Malay Mail: “Steering committee set up to discuss forming Malaysia Media Council” ; “Journalist groups form alliance, demand to be consulted in setting up of media council” ; “Gobind: Putrajaya will leave media council for industry to decide” 

Free Malaysia Today (FMT): “We want a free, but responsible media, says Kadir” 

Malaysiakini: “Draft bill for media council targeted for end-April” 



Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Rights Group Urges UN Rights Council Pressure on Myanmar to Protect Freedom of Expression” 

“The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) should call on Myanmar’s government to undertake immediate reforms to protect freedom of expression in a resolution to be adopted at the conclusion of the body’s 40th Session later this month, a London-based rights group said Wednesday (6 March 2019)…. In a briefing, Article 19 noted that U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee had expressed concerns over the shrinking of democratic space in the country in an assessment she gave to the HRC in March 2018, and said the situation had worsened since then, despite the promise of more freedoms under State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government.” 


Free Expression Myanmar: “NGOs call on parliament to consult on draft privacy law amendment – နိုင်ငံသားများ၏ ပုဂ္ဂိုလ်ဆိုင်ရာလွတ်လပ်မှုနှင့် ပုဂ္ဂိုလ်ဆိုင်ရာလုံခြုံမှုကိုကာကွယ်ပေးသည့် ဥပဒေအား ပြင်ဆင် သည့် ဥပဒေကြမ်းနှင့်စပ်လျဉ်း၍ပြည်ထောင်စုလွှတ်တော်နာယက ထံသို့ အရပ်ဖက် အဖွဲ့အစည်းများ၏ အိတ်ဖွင့်ပေးစာ။” 

“The Draft Amendment Bill of the Law Protecting the Privacy and Security of Citizens was published on the Union Parliament website on 25 February 2019, in order to inform the public…. We welcome the government’s attempt to amend the privacy law. Since its adoption in March 2017, we have consistently called upon on the government to address the privacy law’s weaknesses and fully protect the right to privacy.” 



Bulatlat.com: “‘Time to fight back for alternative news under attack’” 

“It is time to fight back to defend press freedom…. This was the overall message during the recently-held forum by National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and online news Bulatlat dubbed as ‘Cyber-attacks on Critical media and Legal Remedies’ as cyber-attacks against alternative media outfits and websites of progressive organizations continue to intensify…. Frank Lloyd Tiongson of the NUPL said those behind the attackers may be held to account as provided in the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act, which covers offenses that compromise the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer systems.” 


ABS-CBN News: “How social media ‘influencers’ helped Twinmark disseminate fake news” 

“‘Fake news’ – or more accurately, disinformation or misinformation – has spread like wildfire on Facebook in the last few years, thanks in part to so-called social media influencers…. Twinmark Media Enterprises, which was banned by Facebook for exhibiting “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” paid social media influencers between P5,000 to P150,000 a month to re-post or share fake news…. Based on a Twinmark’s 2017 “advertising list” obtained by ABS-CBN News, many of the pages that shared Twinmark content were linked to showbiz celebrities, fan pages, news media personalities, and politicians. There were also a number of meme, quote, or joke pages that had huge followings and likes.” 


Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Duterte narcolist: To publish or not to publish” 

“Since the start of the drug war, Filipinos have grown wary of the narcolist — a compilation of names of drug suspects that many people on the list feel have marked them for the slaughter…. Public dread has not stopped the government from publicizing one list on Aug. 7, 2016 with 158 names, and another with 207 on April 30, 2018, weeks before the May barangay elections … All the legal experts agree that the right to due process of those listed would be violated. They, however, stopped short of saying the government should not release the list.” 


Rappler.com: “[OPINION | Newspoint] Where there’s a sitting judge there’s justice” 

“Press freedom may only derive from the more general one of freedom of expression, but, because of its institutional nature, it has a practical primacy over the other. It is relied upon not only to facilitate the search for truth but, by some process of distillation, to sort through the controversies attending that search. The intent is to afford the individual beneficiaries of the freedom of expression, the citizens themselves, a more or less informed mind before they even attempt to speak or act it…. Take away press freedom and other freedoms become useless. Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly make for nothing more than a free market of chatter and gossip. The press is replaced by one lone self-interested, self-installed sanctifying voice.” 


Philippine Daily Inquirer: “PLDT moves to address spying concerns” 

“PLDT Inc. is working with China’s Huawei to address spying concerns raised by the United States government, PLDT chair and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan said…. Huawei, the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment supplier, was earlier tapped by local telcos PLDT and Globe Telecom as a key network partner in the rollout of their 5G infrastructure, the next-generation mobile standard.” 


Hivos: “How data revealed more than just nepotism in the Philippines” 

“Here follows the story of how the PCIJ (Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism), a Hivos Open Contracting partner since 2017, used the resources it had at hand – together with an open contracting lens – to unravel the tangled web of government contracts and misuse of taxpayer money in the Philippines. 



Bangkok Post: “MCOT denies firing Orawan” 

“Doubts over the fate of news anchor Orawan Choodee continue to linger, even after state-owned broadcaster, MCOT Plc, denied pulling her off the air for asking questions that cornered Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his military-backed government during an election debate programme…. In a statement released late on Saturday (2 March 2019) evening, MCOT president Kematat Paladesh dismissed reports that Ms Orawan was removed from the programme as ‘misleading’, and said Orawan and veteran journalist Veera Theeraphat will continue to host the programme, which airs every Thursday night.” 

See also: 

Prachatai: “MCOT removes TV host after students vote down NCPO agenda” 


Bangkok Post: “FFP sues media outlet, MC Chulcherm” 

“The Future Forward Party (FFP) filed two libel suits Wednesday (6 March 2019) against a minor royal and TNEWS news agency, over claims the party is trying to supplant the monarchy…. In one suit, the FFP, led by party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, accused Mom Chao Chulcherm Yugala of defaming the party by posing misleading content in a Facebook post.” 


Khaosod English: “Activist Ekachai Assaulted for the Sixth Time in One Year” 

“An inveterate anti-junta activist was beaten bloody by anonymous assailants Tuesday (5 March 2019) in the sixth such attack in just over a year…. Ekachai, 44, was leaving the Public Health Ministry after lodging a misconduct complaint against a royalist doctor and retired army general when the attack occurred at about 4pm. He said one of two men wearing helmets on a motorcycle called out his name and then struck him with a splintered piece of wood about half a dozen times, leaving his head bleeding.” 


Amnesty International. “Thailand: From free speech to refugee protection, next government must undertake deep reforms” 

“Thailand’s next government will need to lift undue restrictions on freedom of expression and limit arbitrary executive powers, Amnesty International said ahead of polling day on 24 March…. ‘The new administration should end the criminalization of peaceful dissent and other arbitrary limitations on freedom of expression. Over the last ten years of political instability, the Thai authorities have often invoked national security to silence perceived critics and peaceful political opponents,’ said Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Thailand campaigner.” 

See also: 

Thailand: Decision to dissolve political party shows restrictive environment for human rights” 


Bangkok Post: “Eight operators setting up dedicated cyberthreat team” 

“Eight telecom companies have signed an agreement to establish the Telecom Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) to monitor and prevent cyber-attacks in the sector…. The move is in line with the government’s digital economy roadmap, as well as the upcoming cybersecurity bill that was passed by the National Legislative Assembly last week.” 

See also: 

The Nation: “New cyberlaw ripe for abuse, activists warn” 

ASEAN Economist: “Thailand’s junta deepens cyber-censorship” 


Khaosod English: “Army Chief Files Libel Charges Against Seripisut” 

“Army commander-in-chief Apirat Kongsompong on Tuesday (5 March 2019) filed a defamation complaint against an outspoken anti-military politician, a source inside the military said…. The army chief, who’s sowed a reputation of a staunch junta supporter, accuses Seri Ruam Thai Party leader Seripisut Temiyawet of defaming him under Computer Crime Act when he harangued a soldier who was monitoring his campaign Monday. 


Al Jazeera: “Thai artists face restrictions ahead of upcoming elections” 

“Despite Thailand’s tough lese majeste and censorship laws, a group of artists has produced politically-themed work before the general election later this month…. And they say their message is getting through to some parts of the population, who are fed up with five years of military rule.” 


Bangkok Post: “TJA picks new president” 

“The Bangkok Post’s senior political reporter, Mongkol Bangprapa, has been elected the new Thai Journalists Association (TJA) president…. Mongkol will succeed Pramet Lekpet of the Thai Rath daily to lead his fellow journalists on a path that he said is ‘increasingly challenged by many pressures’.” 



Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “RSF decries increase in Vietnam’s mistreatment of imprisoned journalists” 

“As the detained Vietnamese blogger and video reporter Nguyen Van Hoa continues a two-week-old hunger strike in protest against the beatings he has received in prison, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announces that it is referring the increase in mistreatment of Vietnam’s imprisoned journalists to the United Nations special rapporteur on torture.” 


VNExpress International: “Vietnam media giant could lose $20 mln as YouTube pulls plug on deal” 

“Digital media conglomerate Yeah1 is set to lose 28 percent of future revenues after YouTube unilaterally terminated its content hosting agreement with it…. The company’s financial statements for 2018 showed that activities connected to YouTube generated around VND462 billion ($19.93 million) for Yeah1, or nearly 28 percent of its revenues.” 



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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