Weekly Media Roundup (26 January – 1 February 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) 


[Cambodia] Journalist attacked while covering illegal forest clearing, fishing in Siem Reap


[Philippines] Cyber attacks continue against alternative news website



[Philippines] National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): “NUJP slams House reso restricting access to SALN” 



[Cambodia] IFEX: “Cambodia’s human rights record under spotlight in third Universal Periodic Review” 


[Indonesia] Veteran journalist and press freedom fighter dies at 55


[Malaysia] Closure of oldest Tamil newspaper a blow to media diversity


[Myanmar] Dismal state of free expression today’s reality under NLD-led gov’t


[Thailand] CSOs highlight role of the media during elections

See also: 

Media-public forum shines a light on bleak realities of election reporting

Media vital in shaping public discourse during election, says monitoring group


General news 

We Are Social and Hootsuite. “Digital 2019: Global internet use accelerates” 

“We Are Social and Hootsuite’s latest collection of Global Digital 2019 reports reveals that internet users are growing by an average of more than one million new users every day, with all of the original ‘Next Billion Users’ now online.” 


Southeast Asia 

Equal Times: “The rise of disinformation and censorship in south-east Asia” 

“‘The situation in much of the region is deeply concerning,’ said Tess Bacalla, executive director of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, to Equal Times, highlighting several challenges including ‘the steep decline of press freedom…the rise of ethnic nationalism and the intensifying systematic crackdown on independent media amid concerted efforts by state and non-state actors alike to undermine the press and all other independent voices, such as those of civil society and human rights advocates.’” 



The Jakarta Post. “‘Indonesia Barokah’ tabloid not journalism: Press Council” 

“The Press Council has declared that the controversial tabloid Indonesia Barokah and all of its contents are not journalistic products and told those who felt hurt by it to not use the Press Law for any lawsuits…. The council made the statement on Tuesday (29 January 2019) after it reviewed the tabloid and its contents.” 


The Jakarta Post: “UGM student journos awarded for reporting on alleged sexual assault” 

“The Pantau Foundation, a Jakarta-based journalism research and training organization, gave the 2019 Oktovianus Pogau award on Thursday (31 January 2019) to two Gadjah Mada University (UGM) students, Citra Maudy Mahanani, 20, and Thovan Sugandi, 22…. Citra and Thovan are the respective writer and editor of the UGM student press Balairung who in November released an investigative report about the experience of a UGM student, given a pseudonym Agni, who said she had been sexually assaulted by a classmate during a community service program (KKN) in Maluku in June 2017.” 



Malaysiakini: “Vell Paari explains why plug pulled on Tamil Nesan” 

“The decision to call time on Tamil Nesan was not one taken lightly, its managing director S Vell Paari said today (29 January 2019)…. ‘The paper was first published on Sept 24, 1924, and it has a rich history.’” 


Free Malaysia Today (FMT): “Malaysia tops social media penetration in Southeast Asia, says report” 

“In terms of mobile social media penetration, Malaysia is ranked among the top five in the world and the highest in Southeast Asia, according to the latest Digital 2019 report by Hootsuite and We Are Social…. The report said internet penetration in Malaysia is at 80%, with users spending an average of eight hours and five minutes online each day.” 



Reuters: “Jailed Reuters journalists appeal to Myanmar’s top court as rights group decries ‘fear’” 

“Lawyers for two Reuters reporters jailed in Myanmar for breaking a colonial-era official secrets law appealed to the Supreme Court on Friday (1 February 2019) against their conviction, as a rights group said the government wielded repressive laws against peaceful critics…. The appeal, citing evidence of a police set-up and lack of proof of a crime, came as New York-based Human Rights Watch said Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s government had dashed hopes for Myanmar’s first democratic leader in decades to protect free speech.” 

See also: 

Radio Free Asia: “Jailed Reuters Reporters File Appeal With Myanmar’s Top Court as Government Dismisses Press Freedom Critics” 

The Diplomat: “Landmark Myanmar Press Freedom Case Set For Supreme Court Appeal” 


Human Rights Watch (HRW): “Dashed Hopes | The Criminalization of Peaceful Expression in Myanmar” 

“This report—based largely on interviews in Myanmar and analysis of legal and policy changes since 2016—assesses the NLD government’s record on freedom of expression and assembly in its more than two years in power. It updates Human Rights Watch’s prior report, ‘They Can Arrest You at Any Time’: The Criminalization of Peaceful Expression in Burma, issued in June 2016, focusing on the laws most commonly used to suppress speech. We conclude that freedom of expression in Myanmar is deteriorating, directly affecting a wide range of people, from Facebook users critical of officials to students performing a satirical anti-war play. Domestic journalists are particularly at risk.” 



Bulatlat.com: “Alternative news Bulatlat under attack again” 

“Alternative news website Bulatlat is once again being subjected to a series of cyber-attack, a digital forensic investigation report revealed…. In its forensic report, Qurium Media Foundation, a noted Sweden-based group of digital forensic investigation experts that provides support to various media agencies facing similar attacks, said they have been mitigating the attacks against Bulatlat’s website, which is being subjected to a series of denial of service attacks since January 19, 2019.” 

See also: 

Qurium: “Violent cyber attacks against Philippine independent media” 


SunStar Philippines: “Ormoc City mayor slaps journo with P10-M libel case” 

“Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez on Wednesday, January 30, filed a P10-million libel case against Manila-based journalist Paul Farol…. In his affidavit of complaint, Gomez said the journalist also violated the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 for alleged libelous online articles and Facebook posts.” 


Rappler.com: “Malacañang: House restrictions on SALNs may violate Constitution” 

“Malacañang does not approve of the House of Representatives’ new rules restricting access to lawmakers’ Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN), a critical document used to prevent or spot graft and corruption…. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said such restrictions may even be a violation of the 1987 Constitution.” 

See also: 

Philippine News Agency (PNA): “Gov’t to form body to review denied FOI requests” 


philstar.com: “Press freedom not under attack, former journalist Jiggy Manicad says” 

“Veteran broadcast journalist Jiggy Manicad believes press freedom is not under attack in the Philippines, saying legal action against a news website deemed critical of the government is an isolated case…. Manicad, who is running for senator under the Hugpong ng Pagbabago slate in the May elections, said on ONE News’ ‘The Chiefs’ on Monday (28 January 2019) evening that the government has basis for investigating and filing cases against news website Rappler, adding how the news site ‘handled’ stories might have been a factor in its legal troubles.” 

See also: 

Philippine Daily Inquirer: “(Editorial) There are no words” 


Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Candidates ordered to register websites” 

“Political parties and candidates are now required to register all websites and social media pages that they will be using in their campaign for the May 13 midterm elections…. According to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution No. 10488, parties and candidates must register the websites with the Comelec’s education and information department.” 


INQUIRER.net: “Human Security Act amendments may be used to harass gov’t critics, says solon” 

“The proposed amendments to R.A. 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007 might be used to silence critics of the government, a lawmaker from the Makabayan bloc warned on Monday (28 January 2019)…. According to Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, House Bills 7141 and 5507 — if enacted — can be used to target legal organizations and personalities who disagree with government policies.” 


Philippine Daily Inquirer. “Hate, violence on campus: Social media as war zone” 

“Late last year, two major leaks on social media helped expose the violence and discrimination seething in the underbellies of two of the country’s top educational institutions: the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University … For UP professor and sociologist Sarah Raymundo, seeking justice and accountability does not stop at managerial solutions. The problem is both political and cultural, she said…. In UP’s case, social media brought to the surface what institutional corrections or reforms should be done, Raymundo said.” 


Manila Bulletin: “House approves bill making libel case hearings accessible to journalists” 

“The House Committee on Justice approved on Monday a bill seeking to make libel case hearings more accessible to community journalists … House Bill 6916 seeks to provide a specific venue of action in libel cases against a community journalist, publication or broadcast station…. According to the bill, the civil action shall be filed in the same court where the criminal action is filed.” 



Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Prosecution in Thailand over shortwave broadcasts to China” 

“Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Thai authorities to drop all proceedings against Yung-hsin Chiang, a Taiwanese businessman based in Thailand who is facing a possible five-year jail sentence in a connection with a short-wave radio station that targeted listeners in China…. Chiang, who is due to appear in court on 12 February, was arrested at his office in Bangkok on 23 November on a charge of violating Thailand’s broadcasting laws and was held for two days before being released on bail.” 


The Organization for World Peace: “Thailand To Increase Internet Restrictions With New Cybersecurity Law” 

“Thailand is set to pass a new cybersecurity law which will give a government agency power to seize computers and electronic devices and search all data. This raises fears that freedom of expression on the internet and data security will be further restricted and controlled, just two months before long-awaited elections are to be held, after over four years of military rule.” 



VietNamNet Bridge: “Vietnam News Agency asks for protection of reporters” 

“A journalist from Vietnam News Agency (VNA) was attacked by a man armed with a rock hammer while reporting on a story in the northern province of Tuyen Quang…. Senior management at VNA have condemned the attack and asked the local authority to take action to protect journalists carrying out their duties…. VNA’s Deputy General Director and Chairman of the VNA’s Journalists Federation Le Quoc Minh, said their resident correspondent in Tuyen Quang, Nguyen Van Ty and a colleague from another newspaper came to Tan Tien Village to report on the illegal exploitation of lead and zinc ore in a local resident’s garden.” 

See also: 

Viet Nam News: “Police find culprits after VNA reporter attack” 



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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