Weekly Media Roundup (25 – 31 August 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): “BNI opens path for new members with endeavors to expand ethnic media development” 

[Philippines] Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): “ABS-CBN Broadcaster Named 2018 Marshall McLuhan Fellow” 


General news 

Mumbrella Asia: “Streaming service iflix to launch 24-hour news channel” 

“Streaming service iflix is to launch a 24-hour news channel that will aggregate content from international, regional and local news networks…. Iflix News will be available without charge to all users across its 28 markets worldwide from September 3. It will take live news streams, clips, and linear feeds from networks including CNN, Al Jazeera, DW, CGTN, CCTV.” 


Southeast Asia 

Khaosod English: “(Opinion) Can ASEAN netizens guarantee greater freedom of expression?” 

“As ASEAN celebrates its 51st anniversary this month, I wonder whether freedom of expression and press freedom can become part of its values…. Looking around, the signs are not very promising…. According to the Reporters Without Border 2018 press freedom index, all ASEAN member states rank poorly in the bottom third of the world.” 



The Age: “Australian James Ricketson found guilty of espionage in Cambodia” 

“Australian filmmaker James Ricketson has been found guilty of espionage in Cambodia and sentenced to six years in prison…. The 69-year-old has spent the past 14 months incarcerated in the city’s overcrowded Prey Sar prison after he was arrested for flying a drone above an opposition party rally in June 2017…. He was accused of gathering information that could jeopardise Cambodia’s national defence, but the lengthy trial focused more on his criticism of strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen than alleged covert activities for a foreign power.” 

See also: 

The Sydney Morning Herald: “Australian filmmaker tells Cambodian court ‘no evidence I’m a spy‘” ; “Filmmaker’s humanitarian work used to ‘incite hatred’, mask spying, court hears” 

Crikey: “James Ricketson trial not about espionage, but policing thought” 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Cambodian court sentences Australian filmmaker to six years in jail” 



Malay Mail: “Utusan Melayu agrees to settle Anwar’s defamation suit” 

“Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd today (29 August 2018) agreed to settle the defamation suit filed by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim against the newspaper company and two others…. Lawyer Azhar Arman Ali, representing Utusan Melayu, said this to reporters after the case management before Judicial Commissioner Datuk Faizah Jamaludin in her chambers, in the presence of lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo, representing Anwar and counsel Lim Qi Si, representing Syarikat Televisyen Malaysia Bhd (TV3).” 


Malaysiakini: “Hakam urges Dr M to replace OSA with Freedom of Information Act” 

“The National Human Rights Society (Hakam) has urged the government to abolish the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA) and replace it with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)…. It said that while it is important to maintain secrecy in limited circumstances such as minutes of cabinet meetings and military briefings on the nation’s strategic assets, an FOIA can best address such concerns.” 

See also: 

PM: OSA to stay, so elect those who won’t abuse the law” ; “Cabinet in midst of formulating Freedom of Information Bill” 

New Straits Times: “Wee urges Dr M, govt to ‘walk the talk’ on rule of law” 

Malay Mail. “Suhakam: Scrap OSA, enact freedom of information law” ; “WHAT YOU THINK | Show your determination to respect rule of law before reviewing OSA — Wee Ka Siong” 


Malaysiakini: “Open data should be part of Harapan’s freedom of information reform” 

“After the much-awaited abolition of the Anti-Fake News Act, the Pakatan Harapan government has revealed that it will formulate a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), another electoral promise made by the ruling coalition in its manifesto…. This is indeed a good start. However, to achieve significant progress in terms of transparency and public participation in the governance process, as stressed by Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo earlier this month, attention and resources should be given to another pillar of a transparent government – an open data policy.” 



Reuters: “Verdict postponed in Myanmar’s case against Reuters journalists” 

“The verdict in Myanmar’s prosecution of two Reuters reporters accused of breaching the country’s Official Secrets Act was postponed on Monday (27 August 2018) until Sept. 3 because the judge overseeing the case is sick, a court official said…. Scores of reporters and diplomats had gathered at the Yangon court to hear the verdict on journalists Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, the culmination of eight months of hearings in a landmark case that has come to be seen as a test of progress towards democracy in the Southeast Asian country.” 

See also: 

Frontier Myanmar: “Verdict in Reuters case postponed due to judge’s ‘poor health’” 

The Irrawaddy. “‘Thamee, I Will Be Home Very Soon’: Detained Reuters Reporter Comforts his Daughter” ; “Editorial | Press Freedom Faces Serious Setbacks in Myanmar” 

Al Jazeera. “Myanmar: Verdict for two jailed Reuters journalists postponed” 

The Associated Press (AP): “Myanmar postpones verdict for jailed Reuters reporters” 

Agence France-Presse (AFP): “Myanmar court postpones verdict for Reuters journalists” 

BBC News: “Myanmar Reuters journalists’ verdict delayed by judge’s health” 

New America: “Rohingya Inclusion Requires a Cultural Shift, Not a Technocratic Fix” 


Facebook Newsroom: “Removing Myanmar Military Officials From Facebook” 

“Today (27 August 2018), we are taking more action in Myanmar: we’re removing a total of 18 Facebook accounts, one Instagram account and 52 Facebook Pages, followed by almost 12 million people. We are preserving data on the accounts and Pages we have removed…. Specifically, we are banning 20 individuals and organizations from Facebook in Myanmar — including Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the military’s Myawady television network. International experts, most recently in a report by the UN Human Rights Council-authorized Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, have found evidence that many of these individuals and organizations committed or enabled serious human rights abuses in the country. And we want to prevent them from using our service to further inflame ethnic and religious tensions.” 

See also: 

United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. “Myanmar: Tatmadaw leaders must be investigated for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes – UN report” 

The Irrawaddy: “Myanmar Military Chief’s Facebook Page Deleted” ; “Government Quickly Distances Itself from Facebook Bans on Military” ; “Military Chief Wastes No Time Finding New Home on Social Media” 

Frontier Myanmar: “Has Facebook censored Myanmar’s commander-in-chief?” ; “Editorial | A clear message” 

BuzzFeed News: “How Facebook Failed The Rohingya In Myanmar” 

Voice of America (VOA): “UN Urges Facebook to ‘Proactively’ Fight Hate Speech” 

The Wall Street Journal: “Banned From Facebook, Myanmar’s Top General Finds Russian Refuge” 

TIME: “Facebook Investigated Myanmar’s Military-Linked Accounts. It Found a Covert Propaganda Campaign” 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF). “Myanmar: RSF urges Facebook to shed light on role in Rohingya genocide” 


Coconuts Yangon: “Protester arrested minutes after calling for arrest of Myanmar’s ‘murderous generals’” 

“An anti-military protester named Htin Kyaw was arrested in downtown Yangon this morning (31 August 2018) shortly after he began calling for the rest of Myanmar’s military leaders … One witness told Coconuts that Htin Kyaw was arrested around 10 minutes after the protest began, and he was taken to the Kyauktada Township police station.” 


Reuters: “Exclusive – Fake photos in Myanmar army’s ‘True News’ book on the Rohingya crisis” 

“Reuters examined some of the photographs using Google Reverse Image Search and TinEye, tools commonly used by news organisations and others to identify images that have previously appeared online. Checks were then made with the previously credited publishers to establish the origins of those images … Of eight photos presented as historical images, Reuters found the provenance of three to be faked and was unable to determine the provenance of the five others.” 



Rappler.com: “Panelo says ‘simple’ to get drug war reports via FOI. It’s not.” 

“Is it simple? Contrary to what Panelo said, it is not ‘simple’ to obtain drug war reports. The administration has restricted access to these reports, with former police chief Ronald Dela Rosa saying all requests must go through President Rodrigo Duterte himself.” 


SunStar Cebu: “Nalzaro wins over Osmeña in libel case” 

“Regional Trial Court Judge Gilbert Moises has junked the libel case filed by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña against broadcast-journalist Pablito ‘Bobby’ Nalzaro in 2014…. In his eight-page order, Moises granted Nalzaro’s manifestation to withdraw the charge information after the Department of Justice junked the libel case against the broadcaster…. Since Osmeña is a public figure, Moises held that it is inevitable that he may be subjected to ‘fair commentaries involving public interest or even criticisms.'” 

See also: 

Cebu Daily News: “Court junks Tom’s libel case vs Nalzaro” 


philstar.com: “Journalists urged to fight back amid attacks vs Philippine press” 

“The Philippine press, touted as the freest and liveliest in Asia, is under attack, journalism practitioners said … Despite the unhealthy conditions that news agencies are facing, journalists cannot just sit down, the CMFR executives said.” 


SubSelfie.com. “Fact, Fake, Freedom: The Battle of Filipino Journalists in an Era of Misinformation” 

“From personal messages to public posts on social media, the internet has become a toxic, fearful place for many journalists in the Philippines. Fake news. Paid hacks. You should die and get raped by drug addicts. Corrupt. Partisan. You are too ugly to become a journalist. The criticisms continue in the comments section without an ounce of decency or decorum. Whether these comments come from trolls, bots, or real people, the media landscape in the country has become a hostile environment especially for journalists who publish critical reports against the government.” 



Khaosod English: “Lawyer accused of lese majeste now free” 

“A lawyer accused of royal defamation and later convicted of sedition has been freed after over a year behind bars, his attorney said Monday (27 August 2018)…. Prawet Praphanukul was released Sunday, about 16 months year after he was arrested on a charge of lese majeste, according to attorney Pavinee Chumsri. Prawet was acquitted of royal defamation, but a civilian court in June sentenced him to 16 months in prison for sedition instead.” 


Thai PBS: “Army chief concerned about disinformation in social media” 

“Army commander-in-chief Gen Chalermchai Sitthisart today (29 August 2018) expressed concern about fake news and disinformation that will be disseminated in the social media after the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) lifts the ban on political activities…. However, he said he is not worried about the overall political situation as he believes that all sides are now looking forward to an election.” 



All information and materials in this roundup are for general information and use only and do not constitute any advice or recommendation. 

All information and materials in this roundup are provided in good faith. Except for the information produced by SEAPA, we are not responsible for the contents or reliability of linked websites and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them. We have no control over availability of the linked websites.

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