WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (21 – 27 May 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)

[Thailand] Media control for the long term


Southeast Asia

The Nation: “Southeast Asia set for Internet boom, study says

“Southeast Asia’s Internet economy is on the brink of a meteoric take-off, according to new research from Google and Singapore investment company Temasek Holdings.”



VOA Khmer: “Freedom of Expression Comes With Responsibilities, Lawyers Say

“Under the constitution, Cambodians are guaranteed freedoms of expression, media and assembly, but these rights cannot affect the rights of others, ‘affect the traditions of society’ or be performed in violation of the law…. But rights groups argue that those freedoms are not guaranteed in practice.”


Radio Free Asia: “Cambodia’s ‘Black Monday’ Protests Enter Third Week

“Authorities in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh stepped up their crackdown on anti-government protests on Monday, clashing with villagers in the capital’s Boeung Kak Lake district after ordering over the weekend that so-called “Black Monday” campaigners must obtain government permission before posting their views online, sources said.”

See also:
The Phnom Penh Post: “Gov’t touts rights record in new videos



Tempo.Co: “18 Years of Reformation, Freedom of Expression Still Under Threat

“Executive Director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) Supriyadi Widodo Eddyono said eighteen years after the ‘reformation’, freedom of expression has improved although several things need to be improved.”


The Jakarta Post: “Scholars, government differ on Marxism

“Amid intimidation from the Islam Defenders Front ( FPI ) against scholarly discussions on Marxism, the country’s intellectuals and the government are still arguing about whether the leftist ideology is an acceptable subject for discussion…. If the country’s scholars and the government are unable to settle their differences, the FPI’s hostility could become the ultimate winner in this lengthy debate over freedom of expression.”



Malaysiakini. “NUJ: Proposed law could entrench censorship

“The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Malaysia has lent its support to calls against proposed amendments to the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998…. In a statement, NUJ said the proposed amendments could further entrench censorship in an already heavily regulated environment for the media and other publications.”

See also:
The Star Online. “NUJ: Amendments to CMA 1998 must not restrict right to freedom of expression


Malay Mail Online. “Comango: Malaysia regressing in some human rights

Comango representative and Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy “also said instead of taking steps to promote the rights of journalists and bloggers to freely exercise their rights to freedom of expression, Malaysia was strengthening laws to silence the media.”


The Sun Daily: “Freedom of press must come with responsibility

“Freedom of the press must be exercised with responsibility to avoid disrupting national harmony, said former Media Prima Berhad chairman Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar.”


Malaysiakini: “Zahid urges old media to hold tight to journalism ethics

“Traditional media practitioners should hold tight to the ethics of journalism in facing the challenges and competitions from the digital media.”


Free Malaysia Today: “Penang’s Freedom of Information rules ‘open to changes’

“The sworn statements for documents obtained under Penang’s Freedom of Information (FOI) enactment are to ensure they are not edited or duplicated later, the State Legislative Assembly heard today (20 May 2016).”

See also:
Red tape hinders effort to obtain FOI documents, says Loo



The Irrawaddy: “Burma’s Right to Information Movement Can Learn From India

“Burma could perhaps take a leaf out of the annals of the RTI (Right To Information) chapter in India and use it to prepare a robust law that cannot be disregarded or misused by any government in power. The issues surrounding the Burma polity are not too different from how things were in India, so there would be several lessons that could be drawn from India’s RTI story.”


Coconuts Yangon: “Author of controversial ‘penis poem’ released from prison in Myanmar

“Cheers erupted in a small courtroom in Yangon’s Shwepyithar Township this morning (24 May 2016) as the judge in 24-year-old Burmese poet Maung Saungkha’s case sentenced him to six months for online defamation.”

See also:
The Irrawaddy: “Prison Term ‘Like From the Old Days,’ Says Burmese ‘Penis Poet’

The Sydney Morning Herald: “‘Penis poet’ Maung Saungkha sentenced to jail for defamation, then released

The Atlantic: “Six Months in Prison for a Burmese Poet Charged With Online Defamation



Rappler.com: “Pro-FOI groups laud Duterte’s plan to issue EO on pending bill

“Supporters of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill welcomed president-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s willingness to issue an Executive Order (EO) to finally pass the bill into law…. The Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition, a network of pro-FOI bill organizations and civil society leaders, said on Monday, May 23, that a “carefully crafted” EO “can go a long way” in addressing administrative hurdles to public access to information in the executive branch.”

See also:
GMA News Online: “Advocates laud Duterte’s FOI pronouncement, but want provision clarified
InterAksyon.com: “Pro-FOI group welcomes Duterte’s Freedom of Information EO


GMA News Online: “All eyes on Duterte to give DICT thrust, direction

“After years of lobbying from the public sector and various interest groups, outgoing President Benigno Aquino III finally signed into law the creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) late Monday, May 23.”


philstar.com: “Freedom of speech not absolute – CHR

“Freedom of speech and expression is not absolute…. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has reminded incoming president Rodrigo Duterte about this after he invoked freedom of speech in the remark he made during the campaign regarding an Australian missionary who was raped and killed.”



Malay Mail Online: “Singaporean teen blogger Amos Yee charged in court

“Teen blogger Amos Yee has been charged in court for allegedly wounding the religious feelings of Muslims and Christians, and for allegedly failing to show up at Jurong Police Division on two occasions.”



The Nation: “Media in spotlight over its coverage of lecturer saga

“The live broadcast of Wanchai Danaitamonut, a murder suspect, shooting himself dead after police tracked him down to a Bangkok hotel on Thursday (19 May 2016), has been the talk of the town and also led to a war of words among Thai journalists on social media…. The Thai Journalists Association and other media organisations issued warnings to the journalists and media executives asking them to stop their live coverage and be considerate.”

See also:
Bangkok Post: “Prayut blasts media over ‘live suicide’
BBC: “Anger over Thai broadcast of suicide threat


South China Morning Post: “Two years after coup, democracy in Thailand still not within reach

“In pursuing that roadmap, Prayuth, his Cabinet and the military have undoubtedly made significant progress in maintaining peace and order in the country over the past two years…. However, important challenges remain, including forging reconciliation among fragmented and factionalised Thais and dealing with criticism from home and abroad over the junta’s curbs on freedom of expression.”

See also:
Benar News. “Thailand: Junta Starts Year 3 Amid Protests, Praise
Anadolu Agency: “2 years after coup, Thais fight junta with humor



Amnesty International. “Viet Nam: Shameful wave of arrests of activists as Obama visits

“Vietnamese authorities must end their crackdown on peaceful protesters and release all prisoners of conscience, Amnesty International said today (23 May 2016)…. As Viet Nam hosts US President Barack Obama on a three-day visit, the authorities have pressed ahead with their assault on the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly by arresting six peaceful activists and orchestrating a campaign of intimidation and harassment against dozens more.”

See also:
CNN: “Obama raises human rights in Vietnam, calls for ‘peaceful resolution’ of South China Sea disputes



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

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