Weekly Media Roundup (21 – 27 July 2018)

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] Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM): Independent media websites blocked ahead of the election day



[Cambodia] IFEX. “Unfree and unfair: IFEX condemns Cambodia’s crackdown on freedom of expression ahead of controversial election” 



[Philippines] Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ). “SONA ANTEMORTEM, POSTMORTEM | Duterte’s 3rd: What The People Would Have Wanted to Hear” 


General news 

International Journalists’ Network (ijnet): “ICFJ learning module takes readers through the history of ‘fake news’ and disinformation” 

“While the concept of ‘disinformation wars’ dates back to ancient Rome, the 21st century has seen information weaponized on an unprecedented scale. A new resource published by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) – ‘A short guide to the history of ‘fake news’ and disinformation’ – plots the current crisis on an international timeline, highlighting historic moments stretching from Cleopatra to Cambridge Analytica.” 


Southeast Asia 

The Economist: “Open Future | Journalists are being crushed in South-East Asia” 

“But across South-East Asia—a region of 11 countries and more than 640m people—journalists have learned to expect trouble. Governments have come up with a variety of schemes to repress the press, from tax ruses and takeovers to intimidation and cynical crusades against ‘fake news’.” 


Asia Pacific Report: “Bid to unite Asia-Pacific press councils takes off in Timor-Leste” 

“The Dili Dialogue Forum, sponsored by UNESCO and organised by the Timor-Leste Press Council, will be held again next year after the inaugural successful one last week…. It is a forum of Asia/Pacific press councils and it hopes to become an alliance of all press councils in the region by next May. May 3 is World Press Freedom Day.” 


The Jakarta Post. “(Opinion) ‘Reformasi total’: Lessons from Indonesia on media reform” 

“If I have learned one thing from following press developments in Indonesia and Malaysia for the past 20 years, it is this: all reforms follow from press freedom, and journalists themselves must take the lead in demanding it. If anything secured the transition to democracy in Indonesia, it was the 1999 Press Law, which was drafted and passed largely because of how journalists kept up the pressure on the new government.” 


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): “Launch of UNESCO’s Women Make the News project grants” 

“Any media institution (newspaper, radio, TV, online media, etc.) based in Thailand or Singapore can apply to the grant. The media institution must be committed to promote gender equality policies in the media and the Women Make the News Thailand project through their communication.” 



Voice of America (VOA): “Government Confirms Blocking 15 Independent News Sites Over Poll ‘Disruption’” 

“The Cambodian government has ordered internet service providers (ISPs) to block at least 15 news websites of independent outlets, including Voice of America, for two days before and during the country’s election…. An official Ministry of Information memo, obtained by VOA, orders the ISPs to block Voice of America’s Khmer service, Radio Free Asia’s Khmer service, Voice of Democracy, Vayo FM Radio, Monorom.info, and the news site of the Independent Network for Social Justice on July 28 and 29 – the day of the election.” 

See also: 

Radio New Zealand (RNZ): “Cambodian govt blocks media ahead of election” 


International Press Institute (IPI): “Cambodia media stifled ahead of elections” 

“The collapse of press freedom began in Cambodia a little less than a year ago, as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) took the first steps to secure their victory in the 2018 general election this Sunday (29 July 2018)…. Using tax laws and other legal instruments, the government has effectively silenced the country’s independent media, closing down newspapers and radio stations.” 

See also: 

ThinkProgress: “Cambodians prepare for election day as government tightens its grip on press freedom” 

Global Voices: “Cambodia’s ‘clean finger’ campaign urges voters to boycott ‘sham’ election” 

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ). ” (News: Op-eds) Misuse of law will do long-term damage to Cambodia” 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF). “Cambodia’s Universal Periodic Review: Press freedom ruthlessly crushed ahead of Sunday’s general election” 



The Guardian. “‘I felt disgusted’: inside Indonesia’s fake Twitter account factories” 

“In Indonesia – which ranks among the top five users of Twitter and Facebook globally – they are what are known as a ‘buzzer teams’ – groups which amplify messages and creates a ‘buzz’ on social networks. While not all buzzer teams use fake accounts, some do.” 



Vientiane Times. “Sanamxay disaster: Fake reports, photos violate Lao laws, committee warns” 

“The reporting and sharing of fake news and photos concerning the Sanamxay floods violates Lao laws, the National Ad Hoc Committee in charge of dealing with the disaster has warned…. The committee issued the warning today (28 July 2018) after learning that some social media users and individuals both in Laos and abroad as well as some media organisations had published reports containing many ‘incorrect’ statements.” 



New Straits Times: “35 laws need to be altered to widen media freedom in Msia” 

“The government has to abolish or amend 35 laws that impinge on the blossoming media freedom in Malaysia following the 14th General Election…. This process could take more than five years due to the current political landscape, believes Malaysiakini’s Steven Gan…. The online news portal’s editor-in-chief said these laws include the Anti-Fake News Act, the Official Secrets Act, the Sedition Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, as well as the Communications and Multimedia Act.” 


Free Malaysia Today: “Motion to abolish GST to be tabled next week” 

“When asked about the abolishment of the Anti-Fake News Act, Liew said they were working on tabling the motion during this Parliament sitting.” 

See also: 

Malaysiakini: “Gov’t plans to abolish GST next Monday” 


Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm). “PRESS STATEMENT: Media must be free from ‘envelope journalism’” 

“The practice of offering money to journalists present during a press conference must be totally eradicated in order to develop a truly independent and neutral media.” 



Reuters. “Black hoods, kneeling, no sleep: Reuters reporter details Myanmar custody” 

“A Reuters reporter on trial in Myanmar had his head covered with a black hood, was deprived of sleep and forced to kneel for hours at a secret police interrogation site after he was arrested with a colleague last year, he told a court on Tuesday (24 July 2018)…. Kyaw Soe Oo, one of two Reuters journalists accused of obtaining state secrets, said the interrogators focused on a story the reporters had been working on about the murder by soldiers of 10 Rohingya Muslims, showing no interest in the documents they are accused of obtaining.” 

See also: 

Mizzima: “Reuters reporter arrested in Myanmar says he was ‘entrapped’” 


Myanmar Times: “Dying Myanmar media face great challenges” 

“More and more people realise that the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi-led government has no understanding or acceptance of local media and that protecting press freedom is not among the government’s priorities … The role of media has been fading since the elected civilian government took power in 2016. There is more depression in the media industry and more oppression through the electronic law and others.” 



Rappler.com. “Court of Appeals to SEC: Give Rappler corrective period” 

“The Court of Appeals (CA) upheld the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) findings that Rappler’s agreement with a foreign investor constitutes ‘some foreign control’ contrary to the Constitution, but said Rappler must be given ‘reasonable time’ to correct the disputed parts of the deal.” 

See also: 

ABS-CBN News: “CA denies Rappler appeal, remands case to SEC” 

SunStar Manila. “Palace: Ruling shows Rappler case not a press freedom issue” 


Manila Today: “Journalist groups decry media killings, attacks on press freedom in SONA protest” 

“Journalists were also among the thousands who marched along Commonwealth Avenue yesterday for the United People’s SONA as they slammed the spate of killings of journalists and President Rodrigo Duterte’s attacks on the media.” 

See also: 

SunStar Bacolod: “Online harassment ‘one of the gravest threats to press freedom’” 


philstar.com: “New gov’t boo-boo? FOI published ‘Di ko alam’ on website directory” 

“An online website of the government found itself in another publication gaffe after an online user noticed the phrase ‘di ko alam’ written on the Freedom of Information website’s directory…. In his Twitter account, user peepaubau posted screenshots of the FOI’s agency directory which listed some of the fax numbers as ‘di ko alam’ or I don’t know and ‘di ko pa din alam’ or I still don’t know.” 

See also: 

InterAksyon.com: “PCOO’s Freedom (or lack) of Information draws flak anew” 



Human Rights Watch (HRW): “Silencing a Witness to Thailand’s Deadly 2010 Crackdown | Flimsy Charges Brought Against the Outspoken ‘Nurse Waen’” 

“After she resisted intimidation by the Thai military to stay silent, the life of Natthida ‘Waen’ Meewangpa – a volunteer nurse who witnessed the shooting of civilians and unarmed supporters of protesting ‘Red Shirts’ by soldiers during the 2010 political confrontations in Bangkok – has turned to hell.” 



Asia Times: “Why Vietnam is quitting Facebook” 

“Securing the internet under the new law, which takes effect in January 2019, means restricting content that authorities deem as ‘propaganda against the state,’ a catch-all term that has landed scores of activists, dissidents and writers in prison over the years for criticizing the Party and its policies…. Some of the major tech firms – including Facebook and Google, the country’s most popular websites – reportedly tried to lobby Hanoi against certain caveats last year, but since the law has now been passed it remains unclear whether they will abide with it.” 

See also:

VNExpress International: “Vietnam stands by its cybersecurity law amid US criticism” 


VNExpress International: “Viettel CEO appointed information ministry leader” 

“The CEO of military-run telecom giant Viettel was appointed to lead the Ministry of Information and Communication starting on Wednesday (25 July 2018)…. Vietnam’s Prime Minister signed the decision to give Nguyen Manh Hung, 56, the position, two days after the Politburo, the Communist Party’s decision-making body, named him the new Party head of the ministry.” 



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

All information and materials in this roundup are provided in good faith. Except for the information produced by SEAPA, we are not responsible for the contents or reliability of linked websites and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them. We have no control over availability of the linked websites.

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