Weekly Media Roundup (23 – 29 June 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)


[Philippines] Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): “NUJP Elects New Set of Officers” 


General news

The Straits Times: “President Trump’s assailing of media sees US diplomat grilled on issue at conference” 

“US President Donald Trump has assailed the media, and called outlets that don’t depict him favourably ‘fake news’…. And a number of journalists from around the world at an international media conference on Monday (June 25) are concerned that this will embolden other countries to clamp down on the press.” 

See also: 

Asian Correspondent: “Dealing with fake news in Southeast Asia” 



The Jakarta Post: “Palu journalist activist reports mistreatment allegedly committed by police” 

“Chairman of the Palu chapter of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), M. Iqbal, reported on Sunday (24 June 2018) several police officers to the Central Sulawesi Police’s Internal Affairs Division (Propam) over allegations of mistreatment…. Iqbal said in his report that he had been tortured by the East Palu Police’s community management division head, Second Insp. Pirade, and several other members of the police.” 


Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “CPJ calls on Indonesia to investigate death of detained journalist” 

“Indonesian authorities must conduct a thorough investigation into the death of journalist Muhammad Yusuf and consider the possibility that he was killed in retribution for his reporting, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today (26 June 2018)…. Yusuf, a reporter with the local news website Kemajuan Rakyat, died on June 10 after becoming ill while detained in South Kalimantan while on trial for defamation and hate speech charges related to his reporting on a land dispute, according to news reports.” 

See also: 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Indonesia urged to investigate reporter’s death in detention” 

Human Rights Watch (HRW): “Indonesian Reporter Dies in Police Custody” 


Inquirer.net: “Selfie journalism and the lemons of live Instagram” 

“In today’s competitive media landscape, the demands of enlightenment, creativity and distinction emerge. Huge shifts in viewership habits have been occurring right under traditional media noses. Then the rhetorical question pops up: Who actually still watches the news on TV? Do you? The shift in viewership has been discussed over the past few years, including at respected international media forums, such as this year’s Asia Pacific Media Forum.” 



Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Prof. David Kaye on Malaysia’s law on “Fake News” and the government’s response: 

“I wish to inform you that the new Government of Malaysia has decided to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act 2018. The process to do so has already begun, and a specific proposal is expected to be tabled during the upcoming Parliamentary session beginning on 16 July 2018.” (Dato’ AMRAN Mohamed Zin, Ambassador/Permanent Representative) 


Malay Mail: “Najib, Rosmah withdraw defamation suit against Rafizi, news portal owner” 

“Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor today (26 June 2018) withdrew their defamation suit against PKR vice-president Mohd Rafizi Ramli and an online news portal owner over oil subsidy…. Lawyer Ranjit Singh, representing Mohd Rafizi, told reporters after case management in chambers before Judicial Commissioner Rohani Ismail.” 

See also: 

Channel News Asia: “Najib, Rosmah to pay RM20,000 costs after dropping defamation suit against Rafizi, news portal” 


Bernama: “Ministry will enhance freedom, professionalism at RTM and Bernama – Gobind” 

“The Communications and Multimedia Ministry (KKMM) will take immediate steps to enhance the freedom and professionalism of government-owned entities Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) and the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama), said its minister Gobind Singh Deo…. ‘This is to ensure that the media has the freedom to carry out checks and balances against the government’s administration,’ he said when addressing the ministry’s staff here today (28 June 2018).” 


New Straits Times: “‘Replace censorship with ratings’ – PFM president [NSTTV]” 

“It’s high time for film censorship to be replaced with ratings as in developed countries because Malaysian viewers are more discerning than they were two decades ago…. This is Malaysian Film Producers Association (PFM) president Datuk Norman Abdul Halim’s suggestion to Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, as one of several reforms the new government can implement for the creative industry.” 



United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner: “Oral update by Ms. Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar at the 38th session of the Human Rights Council” 

“This brings me to Myanmar’s democratic space. Demonstrations against the conflict around the country and in support of peace took place in several cities in April and May. It is unacceptable that protestors in Yangon who staged a sit-in were violently dispersed by the police and unidentified plain clothed men. Excessive use of force against peaceful protestors is unwarranted. Some 45 activists were arrested around the country and are being prosecuted for exercising their rights of freedom of expression and assembly.” 


The Irrawaddy: “Bogus ‘Crime Reporters’ Arrested for Extorting Villagers in Sagaing” 

“Four members of a controversial ‘crime reporters’ group were arrested in Banmauk Township in Katha District of Sagaing Division on June 25 on suspicion of extorting money from villagers, the Ministry of Home Affairs said Tuesday (26 June 2018)…. Zaw Lin Tun, chairman of the Katha district sub-office of the Myanmar Crime Reporters Association in Banmauk, and three others were found to have extorted 500,000 kyats from four residents of Aung Thar Gone village, according to the ministry.” 



Panay News: “Negros radioman shot to death in front of wife” 

“A radioman was shot to death in front of his wife in Barangay Rizal, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental…. The 35-year-old resident Julius Broce Barellano died of eight gunshot wounds on the different parts of the body, a police report showed…. Two unidentified suspects had a hand in Barellano’s death, according to the police. They shot the radioman near his house at around 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday (27 June 2018).” 

See also: 

BusinessMirror: “Radio program host is 134th farmer killed under Duterte administration” 

The Daily Guardian: “Labor leader shot dead” 


BenarNews. “Philippines: 2 Media Workers Shot Dead” 

“Unidentified gunmen shot dead two media workers in separate incidents in the Philippines over the weekend, including one who might have been targeted by sympathizers of the Islamic State (IS), police investigators and a journalists’ union said Monday (25 June 2018)…. Jessie Cano, 50, was killed in the southern Philippine city of Marawi on Saturday, while Manuel Lacsamana was ambushed on the same day in the northern city of Cabanatuan, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said.” 

See also:

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Newspaper reporter gunned down in the Philippines” 


PTV News: “Aguirre files libel raps vs. Tulfo, Inquirer execs” 

“Former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday (28 June 2018) filed a libel complaint before the Manila City Prosecutor’s Office against Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo and several editors and officers of the newspaper and tabloid Bandera over an article which described him as ‘callous’ and imputed malicious defects on him…. Aside from Tulfo, named respondents in the case are Inquirer Publications Inc. Board chair Marixi Prieto, Inquirer Publication Inc. president and chief executive officer Alexandra Prieto-Romualdez, Inquirer chief operating officer Renato Reinoso, Inquirer executive editor Jose Ma. Nolasco, Inquirer opinion editor Rosario Garcellano and Inquirer.net associate editor Abelardo Ulanday.” 

See also: 

philstar.com: “Aguirre sues Tulfo for libel, wants P1 in damages” 

GMA News: “Aguirre sues Tulfo, Inquirer eds for libel, seeks P1 in ‘symbolic’ damages” 


Rappler.com: “Philippine media under attack | Press freedom after 2 years of Duterte” 

“‘Diktador ba ako? Since when?’ (Am I a dictator? Since when?) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, in one of his signature curse-laden speeches, asked this question while lashing out at US-based Time Magazine for lumping him together with other ‘despots’ in its cover story titled, ‘Rise of the Strongman’…. He has never sent anyone to prison for talking against him, he claimed. Even his spokesman Harry Roque said in a Senate hearing that Duterte is a ‘very big supporter of press freedom,’ because in his 30 years in government, he has ‘not filed a single case, and he welcomes criticisms as part of the realm of politics.'” 


On the Facebook post of “Professional Heckler” about the suspension of his Twitter account

“When you’re vocal about the abuses of this government, you’ll be the target of government-funded trolls and keyboard warriors, and their sympathizers online … I’ve written countless posts about GMA (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo), Noynoy (Benigno Aquino III), Erap (Joseph Estrada), (Fidel V.) Ramos, and this is the first time I got suspended on Twitter…” 


Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Andanar suspects saboteurs in PCOO” 

“Given the flurry of gaffes by his team, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar can’t help thinking that he’s being targeted by saboteurs at times…. Andanar admitted on Monday (25 June 2018) that the possibility of sabotage had crossed his mind following conversations with many people, including friends, after a series of blunders hit the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).” 



Asian Correspondent: “Singapore in ‘no rush’ to impose fake news law” 

“As the debate on whether or not to legislate against so-called fake news rages on in the global media landscape, the Singaporean government on Monday (25 June 2018) said it was not in a rush to introduce new laws to curb the problem…. While the city-state has mulled new regulation to rein in the threat of rampant disinformation, they want to make sure it’s suitable, Singapore’s Communications and Information Senior Minister of State Dr Janil Puthucheary said.” 

See also: 

The Straits Times. “Laws on fake news should not constrain media outlets’ ability to operate: Conference panel” 



Bangkok Post: “Rights lawyer gets 16 months’ prison for Facebook post” 

“Human rights lawyer Prawet Prapanukul was sentenced to 16 months in prison on Wednesday (27 June 2018) after being found guilty of sedition for material he posted online, but a lese majeste charge against him was dropped…. Mr Prawet had been indicted on 10 royal defamation charges and three sedition charges. He had opted to defend himself in the case, which he said was ‘a political issue, not a legal one’.” 

See also: 

Khaosod English: “Lawyer goes to jail for sedition, cleared of lese majeste” 


Bangkok Post: “Singer Tom Dundee acquitted of lese majeste charge” 

“A court has acquitted a prominent singer of the charge of royal defamation, the second time this week the serious offence has been dropped against an activist…. The Ratchaburi Provincial Court ruled on Friday (29 June 2018) that even though Thanat Thanavacharanon — whose stage name is Tom Dundee — had pleaded guilty, the evidence did not support the charge. He is already serving a prison sentence of 10 years, 10 months after being convicted twice on the same charge.” 

See also: 

The Nation: “Court acquits singer Tom Dundee on latest lese majeste charge” 


Khaosod English: “Prayuth’s ‘TIME’ moment deemed inappropriate for Thailand” 

“A top junta official disputed characterizations of the junta leader in a profile featured on the cover of an edition of Time magazine one sale throughout Asia – but not Thailand.” 



Global Voices: “Vietnam’s new Cybersecurity Law could further undermine free speech and disrupt businesses” 

“A new cybersecurity law in Vietnam may usher in a new era of increased online censorship, privacy-invasive data processing methods, and deprivation of internet connections for organizations and individuals who publish ‘prohibited’ content…. Critics say the law could worsen attacks on freedom of expression and negatively affect the business prospects of technology companies.” 

See also:

Asia Times: “What is fueling social unrest in Vietnam?” 


VietNam News: “Journalism for Sustainable Development Award launched” 

“The Journalism for Sustainable Development Award (JSD Award), launched on Thursday (28 June 2018), aims to support the media in joining sustainable development process…. The event was co-organised by the Institute for Research on Development Communication, Global Affairs Canada and Sustainable Development Office under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.” 



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