Weekly Media Roundup (22 – 28 June 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)


[Cambodia] Fixer-translator sentenced to two years for role in documentary on child prostitution

[Philippines] National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): NUJP red-tagged yet again



[Myanmar] Lift internet suspension, uphold free expression, say rights groups

See also:

Burma News International (BNI): “Facebook removing more ‘hate speech than before’


[Philippines] National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): “Take care of all workers’ safety–NUJP to media industry

[Philippines] NUJP: “NUJP calls on journalists to organize into unions and defend press freedom amid continuing threats against media workers



[Philippines] Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR):

It has been 115 months since the Ampatuan Massacre happened where 58 people including 32 journalists and media workers were killed in the Ampatuan town of Maguindanao. Justice remains as elusive as ever.

Follow updates on the Ampatuan Massacre Trial here: https://cmfr-phil.org/ampatuanwatch/


[Myanmar] Civil society organizations and digital rights activists launched a campaign demanding the restoration of internet in areas in Myanmar affected by the recent internet shutdown.

Follow hashtags #StopInternetShutdownMM and #keepiton



[Regional] Reclaiming civic space: Media, CSOs explore joint actions to reclaim media and civic spaces in Southeast Asia

[Myanmar] Burma News International (BNI): “Shan Networks Call Out Thai Media For Discrimination in Reporting

[Thailand] Expert panel looks back on 2019 elections, rues ‘unfair’ and undemocratic process


General news

United Nations (UN) News. “Moratorium call on surveillance technology to end ‘free-for-all’ abuses: UN expert

“Surveillance technology should be banned immediately until ‘effective’ national or international controls are put in place to lessen its harmful impact, a UN-appointed independent rights expert said on Tuesday (25 June 2019)…. David Kaye, who’s the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, made the appeal as he prepared to present his latest report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva…. He highlighted that while States were largely responsible, companies appeared to be ‘operating without constraint’ too, in a ‘free for all’ private surveillance industry environment.”


Asia Pacific Report: “Bring ethics into global smart tech, warns UN cyber expert

“A leading cyber security expert has called on universities to play a more active role in implementing ethics and legal frameworks for communications smart technology to save society from an Orwellian future…. Dr Mohamed El-Guindy, an Egyptian consultant to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC-ROMENA), says communication research programmes should promote ‘ethically aligned’ design…. In an era of ‘accelerated addictiveness’ to smartphone and other digital technologies, he told media researchers, policy advisers and journalists at the 27th Asian Media Information and Communication (AMIC) conference in Bangkok, Thailand, this week that it was vital for democracy that universities stepped up.”


Southeast Asia

Reuters: “‘Unholy alliance’? SE Asian authorities accused of trading exiled activists

“As leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meet this weekend in Bangkok, human rights campaigners decried what they called increased cooperation in the forced return of refugees and asylum-seekers…. Since last year, there have been at least eight cases of Southeast Asian governments being accused of either officially arresting, or cooperating in the abduction of, political refugees from fellow ASEAN countries.”


The ASEAN Post: “Digital nomads are coming to an area near you

“The digital nomad lifestyle is one of the fastest growing lifestyles in an age of remote work and shared workspaces…. Technology is shaping the way youth in Southeast Asia live and work. The rapid adoption of digital technologies, increasing affluence, and urbanisation, together with government efforts to bridge the region’s populations, cultures and island archipelagos are some of the reasons attracting digital nomads to Southeast Asia.”



VOD: “Translator for RT Documentary Jailed for Two Years

“The Phnom Penh Municipal Court this afternoon handed a two-year jail sentence to a Cambodian translator for his involvement in the production of controversial documentary ‘My Mother Sold Me’ about alleged underage sex trafficking…. The judge’s decision — which came after two hearings at the court on May 30 and June 12 — found Rath Rott Mony, 48, guilty of the charge of ‘incitement to discriminate.’”

See also:

Khmer Times: “Rott Mony sentenced to two years in jail

BBC: “Cambodia translator jailed over ‘fake news’ sex trade documentary

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Sham trial ends in two-year jail term for Cambodian fixer


The Phnom Penh Post: “Cambodia ‘presumed guilty’ by UN

“Ney Samol, the Permanent Representative of Cambodia to the UN Office in Geneva, has said that recent criticism of the Kingdom’s human rights, democracy and rule of law comes as no surprise…. This, he said, is because the UN does not apply the presumption of innocence until proven guilty principle to its assessment of the Cambodian government…. Ambassador Samol of the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the UN in Geneva, on Thursday (20 June 2019), responded to concerns raised by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedoms of opinion and expression, David Kaye, and Rhona Smith, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia.”



South China Morning Post: “Indonesia’s listening in on private internet chat groups. WhatsApp with that?

‘…privacy and legal experts have been alarmed by the speed and ease with which the government took its battle against misinformation online to private chat groups. They question the legality of such cyber patrolling and say it raises doubts over the government’s procedures to protect the data and privacy of the country’s 171 million internet users.”


TEMPO.CO: “25 Years after Banning of Tempo; Media Resist Against Suppression

“Indonesian press experienced dark history twenty-five years ago on June 21, 1994, when Tempo magazine was banned by Soeharto administration, the New Order era…. Tempo magazine editor in chief Arif Zulkifli calls on the public to not only view the event as the history of media silencing but also as the history of media resistance against suppression.”



Eurasia Review. “Media Freedom: Is Malaysia Ready For A More Open Society? – Analysis

“The promise of media freedom in the New Malaysia has raised many issues that the PH government is still trying to fathom: How far can media freedom go? With the threat of cyber-bullying, fake news, and hate speech looming large in digital spaces, what is the optimal balance between regulation and freedom of expression? The issues are not unique to Malaysia; many countries are also trying to deal with them.”


CNA: “Malaysia’s artists pledge to continue pushing boundaries of political expression

“While the initial euphoria at the change of government may have faded more than a year down the road, what are Zunar and other politically aware artists up to these days? Are they enjoying more freedom of expression? Zunar, for one, has no intention of easing off the pedal. Likewise, artists who have long been highlighting social issues and injustice say it is more important than ever to expand the room for free expression, educate people and keep the government on its toes.”


New Straits Times (NST): “Youth and Internet governance

“Embracing the Industry 4.0, the Internet has become an essential part of everyday life, particularly for digital natives — those who are born and brought up in a world with digital technology…. According to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s Internet Users Survey 2018, 30 per cent or the highest percentage of Internet users in the country are young people in their 20s, most of whom are digital natives…. In this digital era, Internet users are susceptible to issues such as online crimes, abuse, threats and conflicts. Last year, more than 10,000 cybersecurity attacks were recorded by CyberSecurity Malaysia…. Therefore, proper oversight in the form of Internet governance — a process where Internet users, developers, network operators, online service providers, governments and international organisations come together to resolve problems related to cyberspace — can help to ensure a safe online environment.”



Amnesty International. “Myanmar: Rakhine journalist in hiding, facing charges: Aung Marm Oo

“News editor Aung Marm Oo is in hiding after being accused of violating Myanmar’s Unlawful Associations Act, a notorious repressive law which has often been used to target ethnic minorities in Myanmar. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Development Media Group (DMG), a Rakhine State-based news agency which has been reporting on violations during the conflict between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army. The charge carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.”


Global Voices: “Myanmar disables internet access in conflict areas of Rakhine and Chin states

“On 21 June the government of Myanmar disabled the internet indefinitely in select locations in the states of Rakhine and Chin allegedly to maintain peace and order in these areas…. Telenor, Ooredoo, Myanmar Post and Telecommunication (MPT), and MyTel companies were ordered by the government to cut off the internet in eight locations in the Rakhine state of western Myanmar and one location in the Chin state of northern Myanmar. Voice calls and SMS remain in operation. As of this writing, the internet is still disabled and there is no announcement as to when services will be restored.”

See also:

ELEVEN: “Motion to withdraw blocked Internet access in Rakhine State submitted

Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Myanmar Journalists Reject Army Criticism of Coverage as Politicians Defend Rakhine Internet Shutdown

Joint Statement on the Internet Shutdown in Rakhine and Chin States By Digital Rights Organizations and Other Civil Society Organizations

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Internet cut in western Myanmar in latest retreat from democracy

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Myanmar authorities shut down internet access in Rakhine and Chin states

United Nations (UN) News: “Government internet ban leaves parts of Myanmar ‘in a blackout’, UN expert calls for immediate lifting



The Philippine Star: “Armed man threatens Bulacan journalists

“A group of journalists was reportedly threatened by a motorcycle-riding man in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan on Friday (21 June 2019)…. Erick Silverio, president of the Bulacan Press Club (BPC), condemned the incident, saying it was an attack on press freedom.”

See also:

The Manila Times: “Bulacan journalists ‘harassed’ over trash issue


ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR). “Philippines: New report exposes crackdown on political opponents of Duterte government

“The Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte has launched an unprecedented crackdown on political opponents in Congress, using trumped-up criminal charges, threats and intimidation as well as a range of other tactics to subvert democracy, a new report by ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) reveals today (25 June 2019).”

See also:

Al Jazeera. “Duterte attempting to ‘silence political opponents’: Report


Altermidya Network. “The UP ‘Rebel Kule’ case: Flatlining free expression

“Altermidya Network, the broad alliance of alternative media and community journalists groups in the Philippines, denounces the patently unreasonable manner in which the University of the Philippines Diliman’s Executive Committee (EC) ordered the suspension of the editorial board of the ‘Rebel Kule….’ The EC on June 21 overturned the earlier decision of the UP Diliman Student Disciplinary Council (SDC) to dismiss the charges of stealing, fraud, and disobedience filed by Philippine Collegian outgoing editor-in-chief Jayson Edward San Juan against the editors of Rebel Kule. The charges were based on allegations of misconduct in relation to the use of the Facebook and Twitter accounts that San Juan claimed were among the Collegian’s digital assets.”


Philippine News Agency (PNA): “Duterte admin hopeful of FOI law passage in 2020

“The Duterte administration is hopeful the Freedom of Information Law will be passed in 2020, a ranking Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) official said Wednesday (26 June 2019)…. ’We would like to hit the ground running, hopefully, we get an FOI Law this time next year,’ PCOO Assistant Secretary and FOI-Program Management Office (FOI-PMO) Director Kristian Ablan said during the 2019 FOI mid-year conference in Manila.”


Mashable: “Philippines is the first country in Southeast Asia offering 5G to its citizens

“Countries in Southeast Asia like Malaysia and Singapore have been vocal with their 5G plans. However, Malaysia plans to roll out the network in 2021 or 2022, while Singapore is on track to offer 5G to its citizens in 2020…. The Philippines’ local internet provider Globe has beaten them to the punch and announced that it will make 5G available to the citizens in July 2019.”

See also:

Yahoo! News: “Philippine telco to roll out Huawei-backed 5G service

The Philippine Star: “Globe launches SE Asia’s first fixed wireless 5G


Inquirer.net: “Court approves Zaldy Ampatuan’s transfer to Philippine Heart Center

“The court order released by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 stated that Ampatuan requested to be transferred to PHC from the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital after he was diagnosed with ‘congestive heart failure.’”



The Online Citizen (TOC). “From government to media: More and more public officers are becoming journalists

“Singapore isn’t a totalitarian state. But while it is a democratic country, the laws on freedom of speech and media are rather limiting in how it is used to silence reporters and press that are more critical of the government…. But perhaps more importantly than that, the media in Singapore has been used time and time again by the ruling party to cement their political power. One only has to look at the mainstream media to understand how.”



Deutsche Welle (DW). “Thailand’s ruling powers ‘increasingly paranoid’ about social media: Pravit Rojanaphruk

“A Thai journalist and recipient of the 2017 International Press Freedom Award, Pravit Rojanaphruk has faced detentions, the loss of his job and charges of sedition since the military junta took power in Thailand in 2014. DW Freedom spoke to Rojanaphruk, who currently writes for the Bangkok-based news website Khaosod English, about his experiences and what the future holds for journalists in Thailand.”


Khaosod English: “History Buff Youtuber Pitchforked Over Old Tweets About 112

“A Thai Youtuber’s video about witch-hunting in the Middle Ages became a trial ground after netizens dug up old tweets in which the net idol expressed fury at those with different opinions…. Netizens began raising their pitchforks against Chananya ‘View’ Techajaksemar, the owner of the ‘Point of View’ YouTube channel, after she uploaded a video about the history of witch-hunting on Friday (21 June 2019). Chananya compared witch-hunting to the vilification of those with opposing political opinions in Thai society.”


Khaosod English: “Activists Petition MPs to Repeal Junta Orders

“Pro-democracy campaigners on Monday petitioned lawmakers to repeal special orders enacted by the junta after the 2014 coup…. While submitting their petitions to the House of Representatives, the activists said at least 35 such edicts will continue to threaten civil rights, the justice system, and free speech long after the incoming government replaces the junta. The petition, organized by 23 different civic groups, attracted 13,409 signatures.”


Prachatai: “Activist Sirawtih attacked in broad daylight

“This is the second time Sirawith has been assaulted, and the latest in a string of attacks against activists in recent months. On the night of 2 June, Sirawith was attacked at Ratchada Soi 7, near The Street department store by a group of 5 people, who assaulted him with kicks and a wooden stick. He sustained minor injuries to his shoulder, head, and face.”

See also:

SEAPA: “SEAPA calls on Thai authorities to pursue perpetrators of attacks against dissidents



Yahoo! News: “Vietnam warns YouTube advertisers over anti-state channels

“YouTube advertisers should stop posting on channels that feature ‘toxic’ anti-state content, a Vietnamese official said Tuesday (25 June 2019) at a meeting with major brands including Yamaha and Grab…. The communist country has tightened its grip on online dissent as critics turn to social media to air grievances about the one-party state.”


The Diplomat: “Will Vietnam Follow China’s Model for Digital Dictatorship?

“Technological advancement including artificial intelligence (AI) has sparked debate for people and governments in developed countries where democratic systems shape the operation of institutional systems. Specifically, such systems have been driven by established universal values such as respect for human rights, property and privacy rights, and democracy, including freedom of expression, and political participation. In these systems, the advancement of technology has been deployed to enhance the efficiency of governments in providing public services while undergoing public scrutiny and institutional oversight. For example, many cities in developed democratic countries ban the use of facial recognition technology as an instrument of security efforts…. However, this may not be the case in developing countries in general and particularly in those undergoing long economic transitions without political liberalization, such as Vietnam and China.”



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