Weekly Media Roundup (24 – 30 November 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) 


[Malaysia] Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ): Protect journalists, prosecute attackers


General news 

CIVICUS Monitor. “New Report: 6 in 10 countries now seriously repressing civic freedoms” 

“CIVICUS has today (27 November 2018) released People Power Under Attack 2018, a new report showing that nearly six in ten countries are seriously restricting people’s fundamental freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression. This reflects a continuing crisis facing civil society organisations and activists across the world, with the space for civic activism most commonly undermined through censorship, attacks on journalists and harassment of human rights defenders.” 


Reuters Institute: “Time to step away from the ‘bright, shiny things’? Towards a sustainable model of journalism innovation in an era of perpetual change” 

“In the first paper from the Reuters Institute’s Journalism Innovation Project, Senior Research Fellow Julie Posetti asks whether the news industry has become too obsessed with technological innovation in the absence of clear and research-informed strategies. How can journalism change from being technology-led, to audience-focused and technology-empowered?” 


Southeast Asia 

The Philippine Star: “EU urges Asean to accede to cybercrime treaty” 

“The European Union has called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to follow the Philippines in joining the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, the only international treaty that provides a framework for countries to cooperate on cybercrime investigation and electronic evidence.” 



The Jakarta Post. “Island focus: Semarang case ‘threat’ to free expression” 

“A defamation lawsuit against Zakki Amali, a Semarang-based journalist who wrote an investigative report about alleged plagiarism committed by Semarang State University (Unnes) rector Fathur Rokhman, is another example of a threat to the freedom of expression, the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) has said.” 


Global Voices: “Indonesian school teacher faces jail time for documenting sexual harassment” 

“A woman was sentenced to six months in prison by Indonesia’s Supreme Court in early November for recording a sexually explicit phone call she received from her boss, who had been harassing her at work…. Public outrage over the verdict has forced the Office of the Attorney General to temporarily suspend her imprisonment…. Baiq Nuril Maknun, a 37-year-old mother of three and teacher at Mataram in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Province, was reported by the school’s head master for defamation in 2017 after she recorded a phone conversation in which he boasted of his sexual relationship with another teacher at the school. After she shared the recording with another colleague, it circulated on a WhatsApp messaging group. Indonesian law does not address the legality of recording a phone call without both parties’ prior consent.” 


Splice: “Indonesian media needs to reconsider how it covers LGBT issues.” 

“As with much of the news coverage in Indonesia, the way these articles are framed only serves to spread homophobia…. They offer just two examples of how Indonesian media carelessly approaches LGBT stories from a religious perspective rather than a factual basis…. And the coverage has barely evolved since the government’s crackdown on the LGBT community in 2016. LGBT people are still underrepresented both in newsrooms and in their coverage, with outlets far from acknowledging the diversity of men and women.” 



Malay Mail: “‘Malay Mail’ photographer hit by stone and threatened at Subang Hindu temple riot” 

“At one point last night during the rioting at the Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam temple in USJ 25, Malay Mail photographer Mohamad Azinuddin Ghazali found himself surrounded by at least 15 men…. He had tailed the group marching towards MCT Tower about one kilometres away from the temple before he realised he was the first eyewitness of the rampage that ensued.” 


Borneo Post: “Sabah govt will not suppress press freedom — Shafie” 

“The Parti Warisan Sabah-led state government will not suppress mainstream journalists from reporting news in a transparent manner…. Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said journalists should not be confined to produce news reports that were only in line with the desires of the government of the day.” 

See also: 

The Star: “Sabah won’t restrict media as it gives valuable feedback on govt policies” 


The Star. “Gobind: Govt looking at limiting ownership of media organisations by political parties” 

“The Government is studying if it can limit the share equity of political leaders or parties in media organisations, says Gobind Singh Deo…. The Communications and Multimedia Minister said what is vital is that the media reports published are fair and neutral.” 

See also: 

Free Malaysia Today (FMT): “Media freedom not the issue in Sarawak, says Gobind” 

Malaysiakini: “S’wak MP complains about press coverage, earns lashing from Gobind” 


Free Malaysia Today (FMT): “Academic tells the difference between free speech and hate speech” 

“An academic has sought to clarify the line between freedom of speech and hate speech following the announcement by the police that several individuals including Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P Waytha Moorthy would be called in for questioning over allegedly racial and religious statements…. Universiti Malaya law professor Azmi Sharom said in general, freedom of speech should be seen as something beneficial, to be protected.” 



The Irrawaddy. “Analysis : National Leaders Send a Chilling Message over Media’s Role” 

“Myanmar’s senior leaders offered a revealing glimpse of their perceptions of the media last week—and their view of the country’s Fourth Estate appears to be one of deep skepticism that some media professionals fear could have a chilling effect…. Last Friday (23 November 2018), newly elected members of the Myanmar Press Council gathered at the Presidential Residence in Naypyitaw to take their oath in front of President U Win Myint, who delivered a speech…. Following the ceremony, at a dinner in honor of the council, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi chatted briefly with several MPC members on the topics of social media, mainstream media and access to information.” 

See also: 

Reuters. “Lost idol: New wave of Myanmar youth activists look beyond Suu Kyi” 


Voice of America (VOA): “At Site of Rohingya Massacre, Burmese Villagers Wary of Press” 

“Other Inn Din villagers did not want to speak with VOA and reporters from other media outlets on the government-escorted visit. When approached, the villagers described hiding in the local monastery because the Muslims, the Bengalis, were attacking them. Because the massacre took place about one and a half miles (two and a half kilometers) from the village, they said ‘I did not know about it.’” 


Reuters: “Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo win Journalist of the Year at Foreign Press Association Media Awards” 

“Two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, have received a Foreign Press Association Media Award, announced at a ceremony in London on Monday (26 November 2018) evening … The Reuters journalists were jointly awarded the Journalist of the Year Award for ‘Massacre in Myanmar,’ an investigation of a massacre of ten Rohingya men and boys in a village in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state.” 



Rappler.com: “DOJ files yet another tax case vs Maria Ressa, Rappler Holdings in Pasig court” 

“A separate tax case was filed before the Pasig Regional Trial Court (RTC) against Rappler Holdings Corporation and Maria Ressa, adding to the list of charges also pending at the Court of Tax Appeals…. The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed 4 tax cases before the CTA on November 26 and 28, but Rappler’s lawyers discovered on Thursday, November 29, that a 5th case was separately filed before the Pasig RTC.” 

See also: 

Maria Ressa, Rappler Holdings charged in court for alleged tax evasion” 

ABS-CBN News: “DOJ files 5 tax evasion cases vs Rappler Holdings, Maria Ressa” 

Philippine Daily Inquirer: “DOJ files tax evasion charges against Rappler and its president” 

CNN: “Maria Ressa, Rappler formally indicted by the Philippines on tax evasion charges” 

philstar.com: “DOJ files fifth tax evasion case vs Rappler” 

Recode. “Memo from a ‘Facebook nation’ to Mark Zuckerberg: You moved fast and broke our country.” 

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “CPJ, RSF call on Philippines to end its persecution of Rappler and Maria Ressa” 

Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Philippines: Drop Charges Against Rappler, Editor” 


Asia Pacific Report: “Trauma research on TV journalists covering killings revealed in Pacific Journalism Review” 

“The statistics globally are chilling. And the Asia-Pacific region bears the brunt of the killing of journalists with impunity disproportionately…. Revelations in research published in the latest edition of Pacific Journalism Review on the trauma experienced by television journalists in the Philippines covering President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called ‘war on drugs’ are deeply disturbing.” 

See also: 

BusinessWorld: “(Opinion) A union for a dangerous trade” 


Rappler.com: “Senate panels back gov’t shutdown of social media accounts” 

“The Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs, and national defense and security on Tuesday, November 27, backed the proposal of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) to empower the government to shut down social media accounts which the agency considers ‘inimical to national interest’ or are linked to terrorism…. The chairpersons of the committees said during a Senate hearing on Tuesday, November 27, that the proposal, which would give such powers to the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), would be included in the consolidated bill seeking to amend Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.” 



International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). “Thailand: Judicial harassment of Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri and Mr. Nan Win” 

“The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment of Ms. Sutharee Wannasiri, a human rights consultant and former Thailand human rights specialist with the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Fortify Rights [1], and Mr. Nan Win, a migrant worker from Myanmar, for denouncing labour rights violations by a Thai company against migrant workers.” 

See also: 

South China Morning Post (SCMP): “Thai chicken farm persists with defamation lawsuits over human rights allegations, despite poultry performance so far” 

Bangkok Post: “(Editorial) Weaponised defamation” 


Khaosod English: “Buddhist authorities hunt monk for being too ripped” 

“Less than a week after anonymous photos of a ripped monk went viral online, national Buddhism authorities are on the hunt for the man, who they say tarnished the religion’s image…. Narong Songarom, deputy director of the National Office of Buddhism said Thursday he had ordered national and provincial Buddhism officials to investigate and find the muscular monk’s identity.” 



Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Vietnamese Blogger to Serve Almost Three Years For Defacing Flag” 

“Vietnamese blogger and human rights advocate Huynh Thuc Vy was sentenced on Friday (30 November 2018) by a court in Vietnam to a two-year and seven-month prison term for ‘affronting the national flag or national emblem’ under Article 276 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code…. Huynh, 33, was charged for having posted a photo of herself online next to a national flag defaced with paint, and was taken away on Aug. 9 by police in Dak Lak province’s Buon Ho town after refusing previous summons to come in to their offices for questioning.” 

See also: 

Reuters: “Vietnam jails rights activist for posting defaced flag photo on Facebook” 



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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