WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (23 – 29 April 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)


Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
[Cambodia] CPP spokesman files defamation suit against independent analyst Ou Virak


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: “World Press Freedom Day Asia-Pacific Celebration in Jakarta

“To mark World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO offices in Jakarta and Bangkok are leading a regional event for ASEAN countries on 3 and 4 May in Jakarta…. The celebration will comprise a public seminar, a policy roundtable and two workshops for journalists and communicators on open data journalism and reporting on human rights.”


Southeast Asia

Freedom House: “Freedom of the Press 2016

“Journalists and commentators across much of South and Southeast Asia faced threats and deadly violence for raising controversial topics during 2015. Making matters worse, the region’s governments tended to ban and prosecute discussion of such issues rather than protecting those who dared to address them.”


The Jakarta Post: “Media agrees to contribute to building ASEAN Community

“Representatives of media companies from several ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries have agreed to establish a forum to support the ASEAN Community and to strengthen relationships among ASEAN member countries, not only in economic terms but also people-to-people relations.”

See also:
ASEAN journalists strive to promote regional identity



The Cambodia Daily: “Cambodia Fares Better for Freedom of Press

“Journalists in Cambodia are more free to do their job than they were last year, according to Reporters Without Borders’ 2016 World Press Freedom Index, but those who cover illegal logging and human trafficking in the fishing industry still face a high level of risk.”


Associated Press: “Cambodian ruling party sues commentator for defamation

“(Ou) Virak said the complaint against him amounted to suppression of freedom of expression, with the real victim being the Cambodian people and society.”

See also:
The Phnom Penh Post. “PM threatens to use courts to silence pundits, with Virak top of list” ; Only Virak suit in works: CPP
The Cambodia Daily: “CPP Files Defamation Suit Against Analyst” ; Hun Sen Says Peace Trumps Free Expression



The Jakarta Post: “Yogyakarta artists fight against intolerance

“Yogyakarta artists say violent acts perpetrated by intolerant groups, with the support of the police, have begun to threaten freedom of expression.”



Malaysiakini: “PKR condemns social media threat on reporter

“PKR today condemned the circulation of Malaysiakini reporter Kow Gah Chie’s picture on social media, prompting the portal to recall the reporter from covering the Sarawak polls for safety reasons.”

See also:
Malay Mail Online: “Don’t probe Malaysiakini reporter for doing her job, media groups tell cops” ; Hakam condemns police action against journalist — Gurdial Singh Nijar


Free Malaysia Today News: “AG questions M’sia’s world press freedom ranking

“(Attorney-General Apandi Ali) said press freedom had to take into account the multicultural and multi-religious make-up of Malaysian society, and the Federal Constitution in itself did not give complete freedom of speech.”

See also:
Malaysiakini: “M’sian press freedom ‘not free’, in world’s bottom third


Global Voices: “Malaysia Will Likely Force ‘Political Blogs’ and News Websites to Register With the Government

“Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Ministry has formally proposed legal amendments to the Attorney General that would require the country’s political blogs and online news portals to register with the government.”


The Star Online: “Anwar, Utusan Melayu seek to settle suit

“Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd are trying to settle his civil suit against it…. Anwar’s suit against Utusan Melayu and Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Bhd (TV3) is set to go for a full trial for allegedly linking him to the intrusion by an armed Sulu group in Lahad Datu after the mediation bid failed between the parties last year.”


The Star Online. “A-G Apandi to journalists: Sue politicians who go back on their word

“Journalists have a right to sue politicians or ministers who go back on their word after their statements have been reported…. Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali said journalists should do so ‘once in while’ to teach such politicians or ministers a lesson.”



The Indian Express: “Press freedom yet to be completely restored in Myanmar, says country’s first Pulitzer winner

Esther Htusan, the first Myanmarese journalist who has won a Pulitzer Prize: “While democracy has been restored in my country, it will take time for the freedom of expression and speech to be fully restored. The previous military regime had amended laws according to its convenience and requirement.”


Myanmar Times. “Myanmar media still repressed: watchdog

“The report (2016 World Press Freedom Index ranked Myanmar 143 out of 180) claimed that this reflected ‘the limits of the reforms and measures taken to improve media freedom and safety’ under the previous administration. It said that government entities ‘seemed to have opted for closely monitored freedom instead of the drastic censorship that was in effect until recently’.”


Frontier Myanmar: “Crossing swords

“Instead of pursuing a defamation claim against the journal, as would happen in any respectable legal system on this planet, the five men were charged under the 93-year-old Official Secrets Act and initially sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. The chilling effect of these convictions among other local journalists cannot be overstated….The release of these men is a heartening step by a government that appears confident in its own public mandate and more willing than in the past to test the parameters of its relationship with the military leadership.”


The People’s Age: “Welcoming the freedom to criticize

Burma’s press freedom situation for future is in the good light, as Dr. Pe Myint, the Minister of Information, told VOA that repressive laws that clashed the press freedom should be tackled.


The Irrawaddy: “The Irrawaddy is Moving On (line)

“As The Irrawaddy embraces new times and new technology to go wholly digital, we are delighted that our soaring online growth means that we have become one of the most popular online sources of news and information in the country.”


International Press Institute: “Myanmar delegation joins IPI World Congress in Doha

“Attendees of the International Press Institute (IPI)’s 2016 World Congress in Doha last month were able to reconnect with colleagues they met in Yangon during the 2015 World Congress under an IPI programme that brought a delegation of Myanmar journalists to Qatar to participate in the conference and continue an ongoing exchange of ideas and best practices.”



Bulatlat.com: “Next prexy urged to address media killings, press freedom violations

“The NUJP (National Union of Journalists of the Philippines) challenged whoever wins the May 9 elections to decisively address impunity, particularly by undertaking meaningful reforms that would pave the way for the resolution of media killings and an end to the bloodshed, and push for legislation that would guarantee freedom of information and the exercise of freedom of the press, in general.”

See also:
Tempo: “Why we’re so low in press freedom list



The Hindu: “Singapore jails 12-week-pregnant editor for ‘seditious articles’

“Ai Takagi, who is 12 weeks pregnant, is the chief editor of socio-political website The Real Singapore (TRS). She surrendered herself at the State Courts on Friday (22 April 2016) to begin the jail term, The Straits Times reported on Saturday (23 April 2016).”



Coconuts Bangkok: “Prayuth labeled ‘predator of information’ as Thailand’s press freedom ranking drops

“Thailand’s junta leader has been labeled a “predator of information” after the country dropped two places from last year in the World Press Freedom Index.”

See also:
Bangkok Post. “Editorial: Thai media fights on


Bangkok Post: “NLA updates computer crime punishments

“The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) unanimously passed cabinet proposed amendments to the 2007 Computer Crime Act in their first reading Thursday (28 April 2016)…. The amendments would see the penalties for violatingthe law increased.”

See also:
New computer crime act enters NLA


Anadolu Agency: “Freedom of expression sought ahead of Thai referendum

“Thailand’s junta has been urged to respect freedom of expression ahead of a referendum on a new military-sponsored draft constitution that would allow security forces to exert indirect control for at least five years after the election of a new government.”

See also:
Khaosod English: “Happily Ignored by News Media, Protests Outside Bangkok Prefer Facebook” ; Prof Denies Breaking ‘Vague’ Referendum Law, Junta Spokesman Says She Did
The Bangkok Post. “Editorial: Let the people speak out


Khaosod English: “Army Weighs Lese Majeste Charges Against Abducted Facebookers

“A military tribunal Friday (29 April 2016) afternoon ordered eight people seized from their homes by soldiers be remanded into custody and is considering royal defamation charges against two of them.”

See also:
Bangkok Post: “Families decry ‘harsh’ detentions of ‘Facebook 8’


Khaosod English: “Well-Known Skeptic Files Mass Lese Majeste Complaints

“The administrator of the Fuck Ghost Facebook page, which has won a following by ridiculing superstitious beliefs such as ghosts and magic monks, called Wednesday for prosecution of more than 20 Facebook and YouTube accounts deemed libelous toward the Royal Family, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.”



Forbes: “What Vietnam’s New Media Laws May Mean For Its Press Freedom

“On April 5 the legislative body passed an updated law on the press. The bill expanded the list of prohibited acts for the press from four to more than a dozen. It also, however, included some protections for members of the fourth estate.”


Vietnam News: “Journalists urged to improve ethics, standards

“The Vietnamese Journalism Association should pay more attention to the improvement of its members’ political and professional skills since the social and media environments have become complex, the head of the Central Publicity and Education Commission, Võ Văn Thưởng, told a journalists’ meeting yesterday (22 April 2016).”



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

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