Weekly Media Roundup (23 February – 1 March 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) 


[Myanmar] Violence against Kachin-based journalists deplorable; police must punish the perpetrators —SEAPA

See also: 

Burma News International (BNI): “Journalists Beaten By Staff Of Chinese Joint Venture” ; “Journalists Assaulted By Mining Company” 

Myanmar Journalist Network (MJN): Journalist community condemns attack against Myitkyina Journal reporters, calls to hold perpetrators accountable


[Thailand] Court rules in favor of Voice TV

See also: 

SEAPA stands behind Voice TV; urges court to uphold international norms on press freedom and free expression


New cyber laws raise concerns



National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): “NUJP hails TAG (Talents Association of GMA) Court of Appeals win” 



Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR). “Media Times: Crisis


General news 

United Nations: “Remarks by the Secretary-General on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents” 

“When journalists are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price. And I am deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity. No democracy is complete without press freedom. Nor can any society be fair and impartial without journalists who investigate wrongdoing and speak truth to the power.” 

See also: 

United Nations News: “‘Informing is not a crime’ UN chief calls for better protection of journalists, press freedom” 

ARTICLE 19. “HRC 40: Priorities to protect free expression” 


Internet Society: “Is the Internet Shrinking? The Global Internet Report: Consolidation in the Internet Economy Explores This Question” 

“Over the past year, we spent time working with our community on a new report. It takes a closer look at one of those forces and how it may impact the future: Consolidation in the Internet Economy. Understood as growing forces of concentration, vertical and horizontal integration, and fewer opportunities for market entry and competition, this topic includes the impact of consolidating forces on all stakeholders as well as on the Internet’s underlying and evolving technology.” 


Amnesty International (AI): “Global assault on NGOs reaches crisis point as new laws curb vital human rights work” 

“Governments across the world are increasingly attacking non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by creating laws that subject them and their staff to surveillance, nightmarish bureaucratic hurdles and the ever-present threat of imprisonment, Amnesty International said in a new report released today (21 February 2019)…. Laws Designed to Silence: The Global Crackdown on Civil Society Organizations reveals the startling number of countries that are using bullying techniques and repressive regulations to prevent NGOs from doing their vital work. The report lists 50 countries worldwide where anti-NGO laws have been implemented or are in the pipeline.” 


The Wall Street Journal: “You Give Apps Sensitive Personal Information. Then They Tell Facebook.” 

“Millions of smartphone users confess their most intimate secrets to apps, including when they want to work on their belly fat or the price of the house they checked out last weekend. Other apps know users’ body weight, blood pressure, menstrual cycles or pregnancy status…. Unbeknown to most people, in many cases that data is being shared with someone else: Facebook Inc.” 


Southeast Asia 

The Guardian. “Censorship and silence: south-east Asia suffers under press crackdown” 

“’South-east Asia has never been an easy place for press freedom but what we have seen recently is a really alarming decline in almost every country, from arrests in Myanmar and the complete obliteration of opposition press in Cambodia to everything that’s been happening to Rappler in the Philippines. Then also in Thailand, where the junta have spent the past five years of their rule steadily crushing media freedom,’ said Shawn Crispin, south-east Asia representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists.” 



The Phnom Penh Post: “Information Minister calls on news outlets to run error corrections” 

“Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith on Friday (22 February 2019) called on newspapers and radio stations to run corrections to errors made in reporting when requested…. At the ministry’s annual meeting, Kanharith said there had been occasions when corrections had been requested but had not been run.” 


Khmer Times: “Hacker posts fake news on PM’s Facebook page” 

“National police spokesman Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun yesterday (25 February 2019) said experts are looking to identify a person who allegedly hacked Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page…. Yesterday, the person allegedly hacked Mr Hun Sen’s page and posted messages, saying the social media platform will soon be blocked in the Kingdom.” 



The Jakarta Post: “‘There was no order to act hostile toward journalists’, 212 prayer event leader says” 

“The organizers regretted that the commotion caused by pickpockets and provocateurs had stained the event, the event leader Idrus al-Habsyi said…. He said the alleged violence against journalists was incidental and was not part of the standard operating procedures set by the organizers or the LPI, which was assigned as the security team.” 


The Jakarta Post: “‘Indopos’ election report violated ethics, Press Council declares” 

“The Indonesian Press Council has ruled that daily newspaper Indopos violated the Code of Ethics by spreading misinformation in an article about incumbent President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo’s plans after the April election…. The article, titled ‘Ahok Gantikan Ma’ruf Amin?’ (Will Ahok replace Ma’ruf Amin?) published on Feb. 13, detailed a rumored plan that would replace Jokowi’s running mate, Mar’uf Amin, a 75-year-old Muslim cleric, with former Jakarta governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama, should the ticket win the presidential poll.” 



Free Malaysia Today (FMT): “Stop charging people for insults under ‘unconstitutional’ law, says media NGO” 

“The Centre for Independent Journalism said today Section 298A(1) of the Penal Code, which has been used to charge two people for allegedly insulting Prophet Muhammad, should be put on hold … Yesterday (27 February 2019), a 68-year-old man claimed trial in the Sessions Court to two charges of insulting Prophet Muhammad through a cartoon image he posted on his Facebook page. A day earlier, a factory worker was charged in the Shah Alam Magistrate’s Court with insulting the prophet on Facebook the previous week.” 

See also: 

The Malaysian Insight: “Civil group wants moratorium on draconian section in Penal Code” 

New Straits Times: “Take stern action against those who insult Islam, Prophet Muhammad – Anwar” 

Malaysiakini: “‘Freedom of expression doesn’t include freedom to insult religion’” 


Malay Mail: “Transport minister’s aide apologises for RTM faux pas, says supports media freedom” 

“The press secretary to Transport Minister Anthony Loke today apologised for suggesting national broadcaster RTM was attempting to ‘sabotage’ the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government when it did not air the speeches of his boss and the Negri Sembilan mentri besar during a Chinese New Year event in Seremban recently…. Lim Swee Kuan’s apology comes three days after Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo cleared RTM of any wrongdoing and pointed out that the state-owned station is only required to air the prime minister’s speeches as part of its standard operating procedure.” 

See also: 

The Straits Times: “Malaysia transport minister Anthony Loke’s press secretary apologises over ‘heads must roll’ outburst” 


New Straits Times: “Govt may introduce new law to combat social media abuse” 

“The government is looking into the possibility to introduce new legislation or a parliamentary committee to curb misuse of social media which, if left unaddressed, can cause uncontrolled spread of hatred and extremist ideologies…. Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said it was high time for such a system be created to ensure the spread of false information would not be too rampant to the extent of causing disharmony and chaos.” 


Digital News Asia (DNA): “Wisesight launches industry-based social statistics report” 

“Wisesight released the first of its kind Wisesight Insights Facebook Statistics Report on Feb 19. The report unveiled some key insights from social statistics based on consumers’ engagement patterns…. Wisesight conducted research into eight specific industries to reflect these brands’ social performance on Facebook in connection with Malaysians’ social behaviour in the third quarter of 2018. The eight industries covered were Banking, Beauty, Chain Restaurants, Education, Hospitality, Medical & Health, Real Estate and Retail Stores.” 



The Irrawaddy: “Mining Company Detains, Assaults 2 Myitkyina Journal Reporters” 

“A mining company in Kachin State detained and assaulted two journalists for reporting local residents’ concerns over a controversial Chinese tissue-culture banana plantation in Waimaw Township, the local newspaper that employs the journalists reported. Local residents accuse the banana plantation operator of land grabbing and causing environmental damage.” 

See also: 

Myanmar Times: “Two Kachin journalists say they were detained by mining company” ; “Chinese joint venture assaults two journalists in Kachin: local media” 


The Irrawaddy: “Imprisoned Reuters Reporter Kyaw Soe Oo Is Ill, His Wife Says” 

“Jailed Reuters reporter Kyaw Soe Oo has fallen ill in prison, according to his wife…. Ma Chit Su Win told The Irrawaddy on Friday (1 March 2019) that her husband had a high temperature and appeared very weak when she visited him at Yangon’s Insein Prison on Feb. 27.” 


Frontier Myanmar: “Dawei case deals another setback to press freedom” 

“On February 18, the Dawei Township court fined Myo Aung K500,000 under the 2014 News Media Law over a satirical article published in The Tanintharyi Weekly on November 20, 2017…. The fine follows a complaint filed in December 2017 alleging that the satirical article, which was accompanied by a cartoon, defamed the reputation of Tanintharyi Region Chief Minister, Daw Lei Lei Maw, a member of the NLD (National League for Democracy).”


Reuters: “Myanmar court hands Frenchman one month in prison for flying drone over parliament” 

“A Myanmar court has sentenced a French national to one month in prison for violating an import-export law by bringing a drone into the country and flying it above the parliament, France’s embassy said on Wednesday (27 February 2019)…. Police arrested Arthur Desclaux, 27, on Feb. 7 with an unmanned aerial vehicle in Naypyitaw – Myanmar’s purpose-built capital known for its oversized official buildings and wide, empty roads.”


Voice of America (VOA): “Concerns Persist About Myanmar Speech Freedoms” 

“While a clampdown on free speech and peaceful assembly is being used increasingly, the use of hate rhetoric through social media is also rising, often through military-connected media groups.” 


Xinhua: “Myanmar’s new private TV channel features educational program” 

“Myanmar’s new private TV channel, Fortune TV Digital Free to Air Channel, is featuring educational and aesthetic programs along with entertainment ones since its official broadcasting began last weekend, according to the Fortune Broadcasting Company on Sunday (24 February 2019)…. The Fortune TV represents the fifth new private-run TV channel launched in Myanmar.” 



Rappler.com: “Rappler case can prompt Supreme Court revisit of cyber libel – Ted Te” 

“Five years after the Supreme Court decided that cyber libel is constitutional, the charges against Rappler and its CEO Maria Ressa are bringing up issues that, according to human rights lawyer Ted Te, may prompt a revisit of the once hotly-contested law…. Te and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) have taken on the cyber libel case against Rappler, Ressa, and the writer of the disputed article, former researcher Rey Santos Jr.” 

See also: 

Dismiss cyber libel case vs Maria Ressa, Rappler – Te, FLAG” 

CNN: “Philippines journalist Maria Ressa’s court appearance postponed” ; “Ressa, Rappler’s ex-staffer urge court to junk cyber libel raps” 

ABS-CBN News: “Court resets Maria Ressa’s arraignment for cyber libel” ; “Maria Ressa, Rappler move to dismiss cyber libel charge” 

GMA News: “Court defers Maria Ressa arraignment for cyber libel” 

Manila Bulletin: “Ressa camp moves for the dismissal of cyber-libel case” 

Al Jazeera: “Is there a war on truth? Meet Maria Ressa | The Stream” 


Buhay Media: “[News] TAG welcomes CA decision to uphold regularization of GMA-7 talents” 

“We, the Talents Association of GMA Network (TAG), welcome the decision of the Court of Appeals Special 14th Division to uphold the earlier decisions of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) that we are regular employees of the network…. We go back to June 4, 2014 when we filed a regularization complaint against GMA Network at the labor commission. Our group has been through a lot after five years, including in June 2015 when we staged a rally in front of GMA’s premises to call for the end of contractualization across the industries.” 


ABS-CBN News. “EXCLUSIVE: Twinmark Media earned millions of dollars before Facebook takedown” 

“In January this year, Facebook took down hundreds of pages and accounts handled by digital marketing group Twinmark Media Enterprises in a sweeping purge of sites engaged in “spamming” and massive distribution of so-called ‘fake-news….’ But the monster that the social media giant slayed was also one that it helped sustain, if not create…. Based on several documents backed by testimony from insiders, it appeared that Twinmark earned hundreds of millions of pesos from Facebook and Google since starting its operations in 2014, 5 years before being banned on Facebook for ‘repeatedly violating its (Facebook’s) misrepresentation and spam policies and exhibiting coordinated inauthentic behavior.’” 


GMA News: “PHL online troll earns between P30,000-P70,000 a month, leader bares” 

“Entry level trolls earn P30,000 per month while their seniors receive P50,000 to P70,000 every month as salary, as divulged by Don…. Other known social media influencers, if requested by the client, can be paid with compensation of P30,000 for a single social media post.” 


INQUIRER.net: “Inquirer names Contreras new executive editor, Arbolado COO” 

“Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) president and CEO Alexandra Prieto-Romualdez has appointed Sunday editor Joseph Voltaire ‘Volt’ Contreras and chief financial officer Rudyard Arbolado as the company’s new executive editor and chief operating officer (COO), respectively…. Contreras replaced Jose Ma. Nolasco, who retired on Feb. 25, while Arbolado replaced Renato Reinoso, who retired on Dec. 31.” 



Channel NewsAsia: “Leong Sze Hian using defamation suit to wage public campaign to gain sympathy and support, says PM Lee” 

“Blogger Leong Sze Hian, who has been sued by the Prime Minister for defamation over an article shared on Facebook, is allegedly using the suit ‘to wage a public campaign to gain sympathy and support’…. This was a claim made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his affidavit filed against Mr Leong’s counterclaim that PM Lee is “abusing court process” by bringing the original suit against him.” 

See also: 

TODAY. “Libel case: Leong Sze Hian has large following, falsehoods had ‘potential to cause serious harm’, says PM Lee” 

Mothership. “PM Lee: Article that Leong Sze Hian shared was an attack on me & S’pore govt” 


The Online Citizen (TOC): “Jolovan Wham investigated under the Public Order Act for taking photo in front of State Court” 

“Activist Jolovan Wham is being investigated for taking a picture outside the State Court in support of TOC Editor Terry Xu and Daniel Augustin De Costa who had been charged with criminal defamation last year. Their cases are currently ongoing…. A photo which was shared on Mr Wham’s Instagram on 13 December 2018 shows the act of him holding up an A4 sized sign with the words ‘Drop the charges against Terry Xu and Daniel De Costa’.” 

See also: 

Channel NewsAsia: “Activist Jolovan Wham investigated by police for protesting outside State Courts without permit” 

Yahoo! News: “Singapore activist Jolovan Wham under investigation for protesting outside courts without a permit by holding up sign” 



Khaosod English: “Host Pulled From MCOT Show After Televised Debate” 

“A veteran reporter at a state media outlet said Friday (1 March 2019) she was abruptly fired after hosting a debate in which young voters voiced broad opposition to the military government…. Political reporter Orawan Krimwiratkul wrote online last night that she was dismissed from MCOT’s ‘Election War ‘62’ show because her employer said she was biased. Although she said she would respect the decision, she went on to defend the format of a debate held Thursday that featured young politicians and young voters as fair and transparent.” 


Reuters: “Thailand passes internet security law decried as ‘cyber martial law’” 

“Thailand’s military-appointed parliament on Thursday (28 February 2019) passed a controversial cybersecurity law that gives sweeping powers to state cyber agencies, despite concerns from businesses and activists over judicial oversight and potential abuse of power…. The Cybersecurity Act, approved unanimously, is the latest in a wave of new laws in Asian countries that assert government control over the internet.” 

See also: 

Bangkok Post: “Cybersecurity bill passed” 

Khaosod English. “New Junta Cyber Law Ripe For Abuse: Judge” 

The Associated Press (AP): “Thai lawmakers approve controversial cybersecurity act” 


Khaosod English. “Opinion: Anti-Communist Song Belongs in Thailand’s Past, Period” 

“Indoctrination isn’t what it used to be, not when competition for people’s ears and eyes has become so intense…. Army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong must have reached that disappointed conclusion after ordering 160 army radio stations to play Cold War-era propaganda songs in response to the mere suggestion by PM candidate Sudarat Keyuraphan that military spending would be cut 10 percent under a Pheu Thai Party government.” 


TATNEWS.org (Tourism Authority of Thailand Newsroom): “TAT announces partnership with Grab” 

“The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and GrabTaxi (Thailand) have announced a strategic collaboration to exchange Big Data with the aim of building a smart data system as part of the ‘Tourism Smart Data, the Time Is Now’ project…. The agreement is in line with the government’s Thailand 4.0 policy of utilising technology to integrate information from both the government and the private sector to help move Thailand forward. The collaboration also includes co-creation of innovations to enhance local transportation and tourism as well as provide a better livelihood and increase sustainable income for local communities.” 


The Nation: “Parties vow  to get behind digital drive” 

“Political parties have vowed to leverage digital technology to boost the economy, create jobs, and upgrade people’s living standards…. They also want to see 5G wireless technology get off the ground soon and some would amend technology-related laws that they consider affect people’s rights and freedoms.” 


Bitcoin.com: “Thailand Now Has 4 Approved Cryptocurrencies” 

“The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced a list of four approved cryptocurrencies for use as base trading pairs in the country. The regulator reportedly took into account factors such as sufficient market liquidity and a well-designed decentralized system.” 



BBC: “Vietnam detains impersonators of Kim Jong Un and Trump” 

“Kim impersonator Howard X and Trump lookalike Russell White were reprimanded after staging a ‘meeting’ in Hanoi…. The pair have been released but told news agency AFP they were threatened with deportation…. It comes a week before a scheduled US-North Korea summit in the capital.” 



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