WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (22 – 28 July 2017)

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)

Burma News International (BNI)
Journalists campaign for freedom of expression in Mawlamyine


Southeast Asia

TechCrunch: “Alibaba and Tencent are carving up Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem

“Two global tech forces are putting their mark — and money — into Southeast Asia’s nascent startup ecosystem, but they may not be the Western names that you expect…. Rather than Google, Facebook or Microsoft, increasingly Chinese duo Alibaba and Tencent are the driving forces behind the importing of large sums of capital and vast business experience into Southeast Asia’s most promising startups.”



Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Jailed Cambodian Political Analyst Demands PM Confront Him at Defamation Trial

“Jailed political analyst Kim Sok on Wednesday (26 July 2017) demanded that Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen be made to testify at his defamation trial and refused to answer a judge’s questions during a hearing at a court in the capital Phnom Penh…. Kim Sok has been in jail since Feb. 17 after Hun Sen accused him of implying that his ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) orchestrated the July 2016 murder of popular political pundit Kem Ley during an interview with RFA’s Khmer Service, but Kim Sok has said he was simply repeating what many Cambodians believe.”

See also:

Khmer Times: “Kim Sok boycotts defamation trial


Khmer Times: “Bloggers fear online expression under threat

“The National Police released a 15-page report earlier this week detailing their efforts to monitor Cambodian Facebook posts which they believe are causing social chaos…. With many media outlets controlled by the state, social media is regarded as one of the last bastions of freedom of speech in the kingdom, according to an early 2016 report by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR).”

See also:

The Phnom Penh Post. “Cambodia’s Facebook crackdown: Police are monitoring site for ‘enemies’ and ‘rebel movements’



Front Line Defenders: “Siti Kasim receives death, rape and acid attack threats

“On 23 July 2017, Siti Kasim lodged a police report in Kuala Lumpur against a man who called, on an online platform, for her to be killed, leading dozens of his followers to make death, rape and acid attack threats against the human rights defender.”


Free Malaysia Today. “LPF: Any movie screening needs approval, whether public or private

“Mature audiences or not, it is illegal to screen any movie without having it first reviewed by the Film Censorship Board (LPF)…. The board said third parties such as cinemas, theatres or individuals cannot decide for themselves to screen any movie to the public, regardless of the contents of the movie.”


Malaysiakini: “Gov’t bans G25 book on Islam in constitutional democracy

“The government has banned a book by G25, a national group of Malay-Muslim leaders, on the grounds that its content which touches on Islam’s position in a constitutional democracy such as Malaysia was deemed to be prejudicial to public order…. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also the home minister, had on June 14 authorised the ban on the book titled ‘Breaking the Silence: Voices of Moderation – Islam in a Constitutional Democracy’.”



Frontier Myanmar: “Three reporters, many unanswered questions

“The case of the three reporters detained by the Tatmadaw in northeastern Shan State a month ago for allegedly breaching the colonial-era Unlawful Associations Act raises questions that deserve answers…. DVB reporters Ko Aye Naing and Ko Pyae Bone Aung, and Ko Lawi Weng (aka Ko Thein Zaw), a senior reporter with The Irrawaddy, were detained on June 26 while returning from a ceremony hosted by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, a non-signatory of the so-called Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.”

See also:

The Irrawaddy: “Specials | Our Fight For Press Freedom” ; “Commentary | A Judicious Opportunity
Voice of America (VOA): “Trial of 3 Myanmar Journalists Marred by Lack of Access, Transparency
The Washington Post: “Myanmar court agrees to speed up trial of journalists
Reuters: “Detained Myanmar journalists defiant at ‘unlawful association’ trial


Myanmar Times: “Tatmadaw must be referred as ‘Tatmadaw’

“A senior general on Thursday (27 July 2017) urged the media to refer to the country’s armed forces as Tatmadaw and not by any other name in their news reports.”

See also:

The Irrawaddy: “‘Myanmar Army is Indirectly Pressuring Media’


Voice of America (VOA): “Myanmar Moves to Amend Controversial Online Defamation Law

“Amid mounting pressure from diplomats and the media, Myanmar’s parliament is soon expected to amend a heavily criticized law that has been used to restrict freedom of expression online…. But while advocates cautiously welcome the changes, many say the proposed reforms fall short of substantive reform and don’t root out the law’s core problems.”

See also:

The Irrawaddy: “Army Resists Article 66(d) Reforms



Rappler.com: “Duterte claims Rappler ‘fully owned by Americans’

“In his second State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that social news site Rappler is ‘fully owned’ by Americans, warning the company that this violates the 1987 Constitution…. Rappler is 100-percent owned by Filipinos.”


Rappler.com: “PH, 27 other countries use ‘cyber troops’ to manipulate opinion – study

“A University of Oxford study says one trait of cyber troops in the Philippines is individual targeting, which is ‘used to silence political dissent online’ and often leads to ‘real-life threats and reputational damage'”

See also:

philstar.com: “Duterte camp spent $200,000 for troll army, Oxford study finds” ; “Duterte on supposed ‘cyber army’: I don’t need online defenders



Prachatai English: “Court accepts charges against lawyer facing 50 years jail term for lèse majesté

“On 25 July 2017, at the Criminal Court on Ratchadapisek Rd., Bangkok, the court accepted charges against Prawais Prapanugool, a human rights lawyer, after the prosecutor indicted him of violation of Articles 112 and 116 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law and the sedition law…He is also charged with Article 14(3) of the Computer Crime Act for importing illegal information online and violation of the Council for Democratic Reform (the 2006 coup-maker) Order for obstructing to allow the police to obtain his fingerprints.”


Bangkok Post: “Military pulls bail for Pai Dao Din

“The Military Court has revoked bail for activist Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa, who allegedly took part in an anti-coup protest in Khon Kaen in 2015…Bail was revoked because he remains in detention pending the results of a case involving lese majeste and violation of the Computer Crime Act after he shared an article that appeared on the BBC Thai website, the court said.”


Bangkok Post: “(Opinion) Police blitz on alcohol pics goes too far

“In the report which appeared in Thai Rath newspaper over the weekend, a police officer said anyone posting alcohol on social media should be aware they face tough legal action — a maximum of 50,000 baht fine for the first offence, and another 200,000 for a repeated act. But follow-ups to that story made me realise I was wrong, he is quite serious…. Pol Gen Veerachai Songmetta said police will take those pictures as a commercial promotion of the alcohol brand, which is a violation of the Alcohol Control Act.”


The Conversation: “As Thailand restricts internet freedom, cyber activists work to keep an open web

“There are lessons to be learned from the very different outcomes of these two similar campaigns against internet regulation.”



The Nation: “Vietnam activist jailed for ‘anti-state’ charge

“A Vietnamese activist was jailed for nine years on Tuesday (25 July 2017) for ‘anti-state activity’, her lawyer said, the second such heavy sentence handed down by the authoritarian state in less than a month…Anti-China activist Tran Thi Nga, 40, was sentenced after a one-day trial in a heavily guarded courthouse in northern Ha Nam province, where dozens of supporters gathered outside, some holding signs calling for her release.”

See also:

Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Vietnam: New Threats to Growing Online Community | Drop Case Against Rights Defender Tran Thi Nga


ARTICLE 19: “STATEMENT | Vietnam: Media must have full access to meetings of the National Assembly

“ARTICLE 19 condemns the announcement that reporters in Vietnam will only be barred from the majority of meetings of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee. The decision runs counter international human rights standards on the right to information, and should be immediately reversed to restore transparency in Vietnam’s parliamentary process.”



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

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