Weekly Media Roundup (20 – 26 April 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] Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): “Rappler Again Banned from Coverage



[Myanmar] Supreme Court set to rule on an appeal by jailed Reuters journalists

See also:

Supreme Court set to rule on an appeal by jailed Reuters journalists


[Philippines] The Plot Thickens Over Heightened Attacks Against Media

See also:

Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ): Statement on The Manila Times’s report on ‘Oust-Duterte plot’

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): Dante Ang story laying the ground for more attacks



Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): “PH Slips Further in RSF World Press Freedom Index; Cites Persecution of Critical Media

See also:

Ressa Among Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People


Southeast Asia

South China Morning Post (SCMP): “How Huawei beat America’s anti-China 5G propaganda war in Southeast Asia, years before it even began

“Still, there is a corner of the globe where the US has already lost its propaganda war: Southeast Asia. And it did so long ago, back in the days of monochrome mobiles … Key to these early deals, which gave a foothold to Huawei and laid the groundwork for its later success, was its willingness to undercut market leaders still too arrogant to acknowledge the Chinese upstart as a challenger to their dominance.”



Voice of America (VOA): “Group Downgrades Cambodia Ranking Ahead of World Press Freedom Day

“Sothearin’s and Unon Chhin’s case had been slammed by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which has criticized a ‘ruthless crackdown’ in Cambodia on journalists…. In a report titled A Cycle of Fear, recently published ahead of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, the organization says censorship ‘has become the norm’ in Cambodia.”



The Jakarta Post: “Access to information remains patchy, says AJI

“Almost a decade after its legislation, the Public Information Law is still being poorly implemented, a study by the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) suggests. Law No. 14/2008 on public information requires public institutions, including governmental bodies and state enterprises, to disclose information and data to the public.’We have the regulation. However, its implementation remains patchy. For example, it takes a long time for journalists to obtain data from institutions. It may take up to 30 days or more,’ the AJI’s chairman, Abdul Manan, said in Jakarta on Wednesday (24 April 2019).”

See also:

Jakarta gets bad rating for public information openness, AJI says



Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Lao Citizens Turn More to Internet, Social Media For Their News

“Lao residents are increasingly abandoning state-controlled news sources and turning more to the internet and social media to get news they can trust, sources in the communist Southeast Asian country say…. Facebook and the internet also provide news more quickly and feature live videos, a young woman living in Xayaburi province in the country’s north told RFA’s Lao Service on April 23.”

See also:

The ASEAN Post: “Is Lao afraid of Industry 4.0?



Malay Mail: “Abolish laws against scandalising court, Parliament told after Arun Kasi’s conviction

“A group of lawyers and NGOs have demanded the Parliament today (24 April 2019) to review and abolish laws against scandalising the court, in light of yesterday’s conviction against fellow lawyer Arun Kasi for two of his articles…. In a press statement, the group argued that the offence of scandalising the court is an ‘antiquated’ form of contempt and whether or not there was merit to the publication, the public must have freedom of expression without the threat of incarceration.”

See also:

Malaysiakini: “Review common law of scandalising the judiciary


Gay Star News: “Malaysian police investigate LGBT activist over UN speech

“Malaysian Police are investigating  LGBTI rights activist, Numan Afifi, after he reported on the LGBTI rights situation at a UN Human Rights Council session last month…. Police asked Afifi to visit a police station this Friday (26 April) to give a statement, according to a Facebook post.”

See also:

Global Voices: “Malaysian activist under police probe after LGBT speech at the United Nations



Reuters: “Myanmar’s top court rejects final appeal by jailed Reuters journalists

“Myanmar’s top court on Tuesday rejected the appeal of two Reuters reporters sentenced to seven years in jail for breaking the Official Secrets Act, in a landmark case that has raised questions about the country’s transition to democracy … Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, have spent more than 16 months in detention since they were arrested in December 2017 while working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys.”

See also:

Frontier Myanmar: “Families of Reuters reporters to petition President after Supreme Court rejects appeal

NPR: “Reuters Journalists Jailed In Myanmar Lose Appeal, Will Stay In Prison

BBC: “Myanmar top court rejects Reuters journalists’ appeal

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Myanmar court rejects appeal by Reuters’ Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo

PEN America: “Myanmar Supreme Court’s Decision to Uphold Convictions of Reuters Journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo a Devastating Blow

Amnesty International. “Myanmar: Reuters journalists’ rejected appeal a tragic denial of justice

Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Myanmar: Surge in Arrests for Critical Speech


The Irrawaddy: “Military Sues The Irrawaddy for ‘Unfair’ Coverage of Rakhine Conflict

“The Myanmar military has sued The Irrawaddy News under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law for its coverage of recent clashes between the Army and the Arakan Army ethnic armed group in the ancient town of Mrauk-U in Rakhine State…. The military’s Yangon Region Command filed the case against the news agency’s Burmese edition editor U Ye Ni on April 12 at Kyauktada Police Station. It is the second time the military has taken legal action against The Irrawaddy in the past three years. In June 2017 a reporter from the news organization and two others from Democratic Voice of Burma were detained by the military and charged under Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act during a reporting trip to northern Shan State.”

See also:

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Myanmar military sues The Irrawaddy for criminal defamation over conflict coverage


Human Rights Film Network: “Appeal for immediate release of filmmaker and human rights festival founder, Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi

“The Human Rights Film Network, a partnership of 40 human rights film festivals around the world, would like to raise our concerns about the health and treatment of our friend and colleague, Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, filmmaker and  the founder of the Myanmar Human Rights Human Dignity Film Festival, who has been charged under Article 505(a) of Myanmar’s Penal Code and Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Act…. Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, who is seriously ill, is being sued by a military officer for insulting and defaming the Army on Facebook. The court denied Min Htin’s  request for bail despite his presenting valid health reasons, and he was sent to Insein Prison while waiting for his next hearing. Min Htin has been in prison since April 19 and his next hearing is scheduled for 25th April.”



INQUIRER.net: “Palace confirms existence of ‘Oust-Duterte plot’

“Malacañang confirmed Monday (22 April 2019)that the ‘Oust-Duterte plot’ matrix, which was published in the Manila Times, was the same information the Palace was supposed to release today…. The matrix has linked media organizations and journalists to the destabilization efforts against President Duterte and his administration.”

See also:

Crackdown on independent media groups, rights lawyers feared” ; “Journalists, lawyers in ‘ouster plot matrix’ may face cases — PNP chief

Philstar.com: “Palace-vetted conspiracy matrix has errors” ; “Palace’s new ‘ouster’ matrix ludicrous, dangerous — groups

Rappler.com: “‘False, garbage’ – Maria Ressa, Ellen Tordesillas, PCIJ on Duterte ‘ouster plot’” ; “FALSE: ‘Ouster plot’ against President Duterte ‘bared’” ; “Manila Times editor resigns over ‘matrix’ story

InterAksyon: “Controversial ‘Oust Duterte’ matrix cites anomalous IP address

SunStar Cebu: “Public asked for caution in assessing ‘media plot’

South China Morning Post (SCMP): “Philippines warns Rappler’s Maria Ressa, other journalists over ‘plot’ against Rodrigo Duterte

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Philippine news and human rights organizations accused of ‘plot’ against Duterte


MindaNews: “NUJP says killing of Butuan radio commentator not work-related

“The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) on Sunday (21 April 2019) said the killing Saturday of radio commentator Francis Patindol was ‘not work-related.’”


Rappler.com: “Malacañang bars Rappler reporter from tuberculosis prevention event

“Malacañang again refused to accredit Rappler to cover an event which President Rodrigo Duterte is set to attend, this time the launch of the Philippine initiative to end tuberculosis, scheduled for Tuesday, April 23…. Rappler’s health reporter Sofia Tomacruz earlier confirmed with the Department of Health – on Wednesday, April 17 – that she would cover the event. The DOH’s media unit took note of Rappler’s confirmation.”

See also:

George Clooney throws support behind Maria Ressa

TIME: “‘My Only Crime Is to Be a Journalist.’ Maria Ressa Speaks Out About the Fight for Integrity


Rappler.com: “Malacañang task force asks CMFR, NUJP, media groups about Maguindanao massacre aid

“Malacañang’s task force on media security has asked various journalist and media groups about funding for Maguindanao massacre victims’ families that have been coursed through them…. Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) Executive Director Joel Sy Egco confirmed to Rappler that his office sent letters to Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), National Press Club (NPC), Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), Publishers Association of the Philippines Inc (PAPI), and Philippine Press Institute (PPI).”

See also:

INQUIRER.net: “Media groups urged to release records of massacre aid


National Privacy Commission. “Press Statement of Privacy Commissioner Raymund Enriquez Liboro RE: BREACH NOTIFICATION BY CEBU AIR, INC.

“At 11:37 AM today, Cebu Air, Inc. emailed a preliminary notification to the National Privacy Commission informing us of an ‘unauthorized breach’ of its website’s database (www.getgo.com.ph), as prescribed by NPC protocols…. In the notification, the company’s Data Protection Officer (DPO) Randall Evangelista, said the “extent and nature” of the breach is still being determined.”


Rappler.com. “WATCH: Disinformation and Democratic Decay Forum 2019

“For the second straight year, a network of journalists, academics, bloggers, and advocates known as the Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation will be holding a two-day forum on online disinformation and how to battle the spread of lies.”

See also:

Philippine Daily Inquirer: “(Column) Disinformation is not limited to digital


Rappler.com: “Huawei biggest sponsor in PNP’s anti-cybercrime summit

“As it deals with controversies, technology giant Huawei continues to broaden its presence in the Philippines, tapping the anti-cybercrime team of the country’s national police as a partner…. The China-based communications equipment provider was the biggest sponsor during the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG)’s 6th National Anti-Cyber Crime Summit held last month – from March 26 to 28.”



New Mandala: “Singapore’s online falsehoods bill will deepen a culture of self-censorship

“POFMA’s (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act) indirect impact may be even more significant than its direct effects. Not every situation would be covered by POFMA, but the government-knows-best principle that has been so strikingly enshrined in the new law is likely to embolden public servants in their attempts to dampen inconvenient criticism by whatever means—and they have several…. There will also be an indirect impact on academics, journalists, and other citizens. For every one who is actually at risk of violating POFMA there will be countless others who, aware of the breadth of the law and the amount of discretionary power it vests in officials, will simply decide that there are easier ways to live than to write about Singapore.”

See also:

David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression: “Comments on the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill

Journalists Call for Withdrawal of Singapore’s ‘Fake News’ Bill

South China Morning Post: “Dozens of university dons concerned Singapore’s anti-fake news laws will stifle academic freedom

Yahoo! News: “New fake news law won’t affect votes, says academic Cherian George


Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung: “On Freedom of Expression and Civil Liberties in Singapore

“The restriction of freedom of expression in Singapore is not a recent problem … More recently, ordinary citizens have also found themselves on the receiving end of such defamation suits: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong successfully sued blogger Roy Ngerng, and is currently suing financial advisor Leong Sze Hian for sharing an article on Facebook…. Such high-profile examples of clampdowns on free speech and press freedom become part of the Singaporean consciousness. Journalists in mainstream media newsrooms get used to dealing with calls from government ministries, and some even embrace that fact that they produce propaganda. Self-censorship is rife in Singapore, not just within the media industry, but also among public servants, academics, and ordinary citizens. This culture of self-censorship and fear is widely acknowledged, mentioned not only in (usually foreign) media reporting, but also in plays like Tan Tarn How’s Fear of Writing and Press Gang.”



Khaosod English: “Govt Threatens Legal Action Over ‘Crazy Rich Prawit’ Article

“The government has said it is weighing up potential charges over a ‘fake’ article identifying the deputy junta chairman as one of 45 real-life ‘crazy rich Asians….’ A Defense Ministry spokesman warned today (23 April 2019) that those who shared the article, published on Virgin Islands-based financial news website Investing.com, could also face prosecution for violating the Computer Crime Act. He also insisted that Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan isn’t one of Asia’s richest.”


Khaosod English: “Journalist Says Gen. Prawit Punches Her ‘Playfully’

“A reporter on Thursday (25 April 2019) debunked allegations that deputy junta chairman Prawit Wongsuwan slapped her face at a news conference…. Wassana Nanuam, a veteran military reporter for Bangkok Post, insisted the general merely punched her stomach playfully per his habit of joking around with reporters. She said the encounter was misinterpreted and overblown on social media.”



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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