Weekly Media Roundup (22 – 28 September 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) 


[Myanmar] Burma News International (BNI): “Govt Spokesperson Urges Journalists To Raise Concerns With Naypyidaw” 


Southeast Asia 

CSA Singapore: “ASEAN Member States Agree to Strengthen Cyber Coordination and Capacity-Building Efforts” 

“The AMCC (ASEAN Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity) followed up on the directions given by the ASEAN Leaders at the 32nd ASEAN Summit in April 2018, specifically to better coordinate ASEAN cybersecurity efforts among various platforms of the three pillars of ASEAN. The AMCC agreed that there is a need for a formal ASEAN cybersecurity mechanism to consider and to decide on inter-related cyber diplomacy, policy and operational issues. It was recommended that the proposed mechanism should be flexible and also take into account multiple dimensions, including economic considerations.” 



ABC: “James Ricketson flies home to Sydney after more than a year in Cambodian jail” 

“Australian filmmaker James Ricketson has touched down on Australian soil after Cambodian authorities pardoned his espionage conviction and deported him from the kingdom…. Head of immigration investigations in Cambodia, Uk Hai Sela, told the ABC he was ordered to deport Ricketson for ‘national security’ reasons.” 

See also: 

Reuters: “Australian filmmaker freed from Cambodia prison arrives in Sydney” 

Asia Times: “(Opinion) Cambodia ‘pardons’ Australian filmmaker as ploy to legitimize Hun Sen” 


Voice of America (VOA) Khmer: “Supreme Court Hears Defamation Case of Former Rights Defender” 

“Ny Chakrya, former chief of the investigation unit of local rights group Adhoc, appeared at the Supreme Court Wednesday (26 September 2018) to demand the court drop all charges against him in an ongoing defamation case…. Chakrya, who served as the deputy secretary general of the National Election Committee (NEC), was sued by two judicial officials, Sok Keo Bandith, the deputy prosecutor, and Ky Rithy, the provincial court judge, and charged with defamation.” 



The Guardian: “Indonesian government to hold weekly ‘fake news’ briefings” 

“Indonesia’s communications ministry has announced plans to hold weekly briefings on fake news, in an effort to educate the public about the spread of disinformation in the world’s third-largest democracy…. Communications minister Rudiantara said the initiative was designed to help the Indonesian public ‘sort through the news’ in the lead up to what is widely expected to be a heated presidential election scheduled for next April.” 



New Straits Times: “Landmark ruling curbs freedom of speech?” 

“The Federal Court’s ruling in affirming that the government can sue individuals for defamation limits people’s rights to give their views and criticisms of the government…. Senior lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said the decision would restrict the rights of the people in expressing their views and hamper their ability to criticise the government, which contravenes Article 10 of the Federal Constitution that states that every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression.” 

See also: 

Federal Court rules that federal and state governments can sue for defamation” 

The Star Online: “Federal Court rules that government can sue individuals for defamation” ; “Outcry over move to muzzle freedom of speech” ; “‘Change old law or wither democracy’” ; “(Opinion) Reform needed to protect free speech” 

Free Malaysia Today (FMT): “Court rules governments can sue individuals for defamation” 

Malay Mail. “Bar: Ruling allowing govt to sue for defamation enables repression” 

Malaysiakini: “Amend GPA to curtail gov’t’s right to sue for defamation – Gobind” 


The Sun Daily: “LGE open to filing more libel suits after Utusan’s settlement” 

“Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng may file more libel suits against sections of mainstream and alternative media who continue to vilify him through spun-up tales of racism, bigotry and religious bias.” 


The Star Online: “Repeal PPPA, so that anyone can set up a newspaper, says CIJ” 

“Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) director Sonia Randhawa (pic) has called for the repeal of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA), so that a licence is not required to set up a newspaper … Instead of regulation by the government, Sonia suggested that a media council be set up instead to act as a legitimising body that would also be self-regulating.” 

See also: 

Free Malaysia Today (FMT): “Repeal PPPA first, then talk about media council, Putrajaya told” 


Malaysiakini: “OSA will render Freedom of Information law useless – UM don” 

“The upcoming Freedom of Information bill is predicted to have little effect if the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA) continues to exist, a forum heard today (24 September 2018)…. During the talk titled ‘Benefits and challenges of access to information in Malaysia’, Universiti Malaya law lecturer Azmi Sharom characterised the OSA as the ‘giant mad elephant’ in the room as the government drafts a legislation allowing a right to information.” 


Free Malaysia Today (FMT): “Report the truth, even if it’s critical of the government, media told” 

“Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof today (25 September 2018) highlighted the need for a free media, saying liberty to report the truth is crucial, even if it is critical of the government…. To ensure the country’s progress towards becoming a developed nation, he said, there must be responsible and mature checks and balances by a free media.” 

See also: 

Malaysiakini: “Speaker pledges parliament’s support for freedom of speech, expression” 



International Press Institute (IPI). “Myanmar: Three years of dashed hopes” 

“Indeed, since assuming office, Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has disappointed – to say the least – those in and outside Myanmar who believed she represented change. Most prominently, under her watch two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were sentenced to seven years in prison for violating the Official Secrets Act of 1932, which dates back to British colonial rule. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been in custody since December 12, 2017…. The incident has rocked perceptions of Aung San Suu Kyi and contributed to what Myanmar journalists say is an atmosphere of fear.” 


The Irrawaddy: “Activist Receives 15-Day Sentence for Peace Protest” 

“The Kyauktada Township Court in Yangon convicted three peace protesters under the Peaceful Assembly Law on Wednesday (19 September 2018), giving them a choice of paying a fine of 20,000 kyats each or a sentence of 15 days’ imprisonment…. Peace activist Ko Zeyar Lwin and poets Ko Khant Min Htet and Ko Ye Wint Aung participated in a protest at Mahabandoola Park on May 14, calling for an end to the wars in Kachin State, at which they gave speeches and recited poems.” 


Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Myanmar Military Officer Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Monk” 

“A Myanmar military officer has filed a defamation lawsuit against a Buddhist monk known for founding a charity organization in the central city of Mandalay, for posting comments on social media that were critical of the country’s top defense commander and the armed forces…. Lieutenant Colonel Myo Khaing Win of the military’s Central Command filed the complaint at the Amarapura township police station on Sept. 22 requesting that legal action be taken against Thawbita under Article 66(d) of the 2013 Telecommunications Act for his posts on Facebook criticizing military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and the role of the country’s powerful military in politics.” 

See also: 

The Irrawaddy: “Colonel Seeks Defamation Suit Against Monk For Posts About Commander-in-Chief” 


Free Expression Myanmar: “New bylaws are opportunity to fix Broadcasting Law flaws” 

“The Broadcasting Law can be improved with the right Bylaws. In particular, the Bylaws should apply the excellent principles included in Article 4 across all of the problematic provisions in the law. Article 4 of the Broadcasting Law states that the regulation of the broadcasting industry will be based on the principles of freedom of expression, independence, fair competition, pluralism, fairness, objectivity, non-discrimination, and transparency.” 


Frontier Myanmar: “Goethe-Institut pulls Egon Schiele movie after censorship board intervention” 

“The Goethe-Institut in Yangon cancelled the screening of an Austrian movie about the life of painter Egon Schiele one day before the event, after Myanmar’s censorship board banned scenes in the film containing nudity…. The film, Egon Schiele: Death and the Maiden, about the life of the Austrian artist, who lived 1890-1918, was due to be shown on Saturday (22 September 2018) evening as part of the annual European Film Festival, which runs until September 30.” 



The Diplomat: “Duterte’s Media War in the Philippines” 

“The assault on the press in particular deserves attention. Though the Philippines has long been one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to operate in, (Rodrigo) Duterte has raised concerns even further on a number of fronts, from his army of cyber trolls to human rights issues that have intensified during his watch.” 


Manila Bulletin: “DOJ accepts additional evidence in Rappler cyberlibel case” 

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) has decided to accept the additional evidence submitted by businessman Wilfredo Keng in his cyber libel complaint against popular news website Rappler…. ‘We have issued a resolution accepting his additional evidence,’ said Senior State Prosecutor Edwin Dayog, who chairs the panel of prosecutors conducting the preliminary investigation of the complaint…. Dayog revealed that the respondents were asked to file their comments on September 25 over the additional evidence presented by Keng.” 


Rappler.com: “House resolution seeks to adopt ‘restrictive’ rules on media coverage” 

“A House resolution has been filed seeking the adoption of proposed rules for media coverage that were previously criticized for being restrictive towards journalists … HR 2149, which (Antipolo City 1st District Representative Cristina Roa) Puno filed on September 4, wants the House to adopt the Proposed Rules for Media Coverage. Puno argued doing so is ‘imperative to guarantee freedom of the press and on information, while ensuring public order and safety.'” 

See also: 

INQUIRER.net: “Draft rules of House ‘may restrict’ media coverage, solon says” 

BusinessWorld: “House resolution filed on media coverage” 


manilastandard.net: “353 judges assigned to probe media killing” 

“A total of 353 prosecutors in different parts of the country have been appointed to lead the investigation of media-related cases being handled by the Presidential Task Force on Media Security…. Department of Justice Secretary and PTFoMS chairman Menardo Guevarra issued a department order on Aug. 28, directing the 353 prosecutors to become concurrent prosecutors under Administrative Order No. 01 that created PTFoMS.” 



National News Bureau of Thailand (NNT): “Final public hearing organized on draft law on promotion of journalistic ethics” 

“The Public Relations Department and the committee for the urgent implementation of reform plans have jointly held a final public hearing in the central region on a draft law concerning the promotion of media ethics before submitting feedback to the Cabinet and the National Legislative Assembly (NLA)…. The final hearing was held in Bangkok. The previous three hearings were held in Phitsanulok, Khon Kaen and Songkhla provinces.”  


Yahoo! News: “Spray-can satire creates headache for Thai junta” 

“Thailand’s junta chief caricatured as a ‘lucky cat’ with a paw raised to rake in money, or his face crossed out by a thick, red line — daring graffiti is cropping up across Bangkok as the city’s walls become a canvas for rare political scorn…. The pioneer of the new wave of street artists is ‘Headache Stencil’, whose spray cans satirise the powerful in a country where free expression has been muted since a 2014 coup.” 



Reuters: “Vietnam jails another Facebook user for comments critical of government” 

“A court in Vietnam has jailed a Facebook user for 2-1/2 years over anti-government comments he posted on the social media website, police said on Thursday (27 September 2018), as the Southeast Asian country continues its crackdown on dissent … Bui Manh Dong, 40, was convicted of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state” at a trial in the Mekong Delta province of Can Tho, the Ministry of Public Security said on its official news website.” 



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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