WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (27 May – 02 June 2017)

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)


Burma News International (BNI)
Journalist attacked in Kayah State


Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI, Alliance of Independent Journalists)
IFEX: In Indonesia, netizens face intimidation from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI)


National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)
[STATEMENT] NUJP on Sec. Abella’s ‘fake news’ remarks


Southeast Asia

Quartz: “The ‘fake news’ trope is making it harder to fight state-sanctioned violence in Asia

“In Southeast Asia, a region full of young democracies, journalists and press freedom advocates are alarmed by politicians’ eager uptake of two cultural memes spawned by the Trump election and presidency — adviser Kellyanne Conway’s neologism “alternative facts” and the label “fake news”—in response to human rights allegations.”



Amnesty International. “Cambodia: Courts of injustice: Suppressing activism through the criminal justice system in Cambodia

“Human rights defenders and political opposition activists are under attack in Cambodia. In the four years since the national election in July 2013, the country’s government and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party have used the criminal justice system to target activists and restrict the space they operate within. This report sets out how criminal cases are being opened against activists for peaceful activities and how these cases are used as a means to intimidate activists from refraining from wholeheartedly fulfilling their important roles. In the context of the coming commune and national elections, the situation is likely to get worse.”

See also:

Asian Correspondent: “Cambodian courts being used to systematically silence dissent – report
The Phnom Penh Post: “NGOs under close watch for bias



Jakarta Globe: “Indonesian Press Council Website Hacked

“The Indonesian Press Council’s website was hacked by an unidentified perpetrator on Wednesday (31/05) morning…. The website’s homepage had a message with text in red and black and an eagle emblem covered in blood.”


Indonesia Expat: “‘Ahok Effect’ Undermines Freedom Of Expression Warns Activists

“Support for former Jakarta governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama continues after he announced he will not appeal a two-year jail sentence after being found guilty of blasphemy, but activists warn the so-called Ahok effect has taken over the country with individuals targeted by groups for their views…. Damar Juniarto, the Regional Coordinator of SAFEnet, an organisation promoting freedom of expression across Southeast Asia, noted acts of persecution are spreading throughout Indonesia.”



The Star Online: “Two top The Star editors suspended

“Two top editors of The Star have been suspended pending investigation and inquiry into the paper’s front page on May 27, which caused a controversy…. Its editor-in-chief Datuk Leanne Goh Lee Yen and executive editor Dorairaj Nadason will cease to function in their respective roles until further notice. They have been suspended from their duties and an investigation into the matter will be conducted soon.”

See also:

Malay Mail Online: “Govt action against The Star disproportionate to blunder, media group says
Free Malaysia Today: “Association calls for media council after The Star fiasco
Malaysiakini: “Media group condemns show-cause letter to The Star


Malay Mail Online. “Report: Government agencies confused about OSA, fear data manipulation

“Malaysian government agencies lack clarity about legislation governing the release of information, expressing particular confusion about the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972 and the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) 2010, a World Bank Group report said…. The Open Data Readiness Assessment (ODRA) report noted that many government agencies cited the PDPA, even though they are exempted from the law that governs the commercial release and use of information by companies, as a reason for not disclosing detailed data.”


Malaysiakini: “(COMMENT) An open letter to my fellow journalists

“The journey towards press freedom in Malaysia can not be achieved without the journalists themselves believing and subscribing to the basic principle of journalism that we know and learnt either in school or on the job – journalism’s ethics of truth and accuracy.”



The Irrawaddy: “Abducted Karenni Journalist Regains Consciousness

“An ethnic Karenni journalist who was abducted last Friday (26 May 2017) remains in the hospital and has not yet spoken about what happened to her on that day…. Maw Oo Myar is a full-time reporter at the Kantarawaddy Times in the Karenni State capital of Loikaw and a presenter for the Democratic Voice of Burma’s weekly Karenni language TV program. In the early evening of May 26, she was stopped by two men in a car as she drove a motorbike with a colleague on the Demoso –Loikaw road, who reportedly forced her into the vehicle and drove off.”

See also:

DVB: “Journalist is victim of attempted kidnapping, assault in Karenni State
Coconuts Yangon: “Kantarawaddy Times journalist left critically injured following ambush kidnapping
Committee to Protect Journalists: “Journalist abducted, seriously injured in Myanmar


The Irrawaddy: “Burmese Newspaper’s Chief Editor and Satirist Taken Into Police Custody Over 66(d) Charge

“Police detained chief editor of The Voice Daily newspaper Ko Kyaw Min Swe and its regular columnist Ko Kyaw Zwa Naing—also known by his pen name British Ko Ko Maung—on Friday (2 June 2017) afternoon, according to the chief editor’s legal adviser U Khin Maung Myint…. The pair is facing a lawsuit filed on May 17 by the Burma Army under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law over a satirical article questioning the country’s armed struggle and peace process.”

See also:

“(Guest Column) The Telecommunications Law, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press


Channel News Asia: “Facebook ‘ban’ of anti-Muslim slur sparks Myanmar outcry

“Myanmar netizens were in an uproar on Monday (May 29) after Facebook seemingly banned people from posting the word ‘kalar’ – often used as a slur against Muslims – at a time of rising Islamophobia in the country…. Facebook is under global pressure to clamp down on hate speech, violent threats or deliberately misleading information on their platform – with efforts showing varying degrees of success…. Dozens of users in Myanmar reported being temporarily barred from the site recently after posting the controversial term kalar, which is frequently used as an insult for the country’s embattled Muslim minority.”



GMA News Online: “Amid Marawi Crisis | Duterte asks media to exercise prudence in covering military ops

“President Rodrigo Duterte has asked the media to be prudent in covering the operations of the military amid the declaration of martial law in Mindanao…. The request was made in General Order No. 1 implementing Proclamation No. 216, which declared martial law in Mindanao and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. It was signed May 30.”

See also:

ABS-CBN News. “Duterte tells military: Respect rights, press freedom under martial law
Philippine Daily Inquirer. “Palace warning to media: Don’t report fake news
AlterMidya: “STATEMENT| Oppose Threats of Media Censorship


Rappler.com: “PNA sorry for wrong photo; Mocha Uson on the defensive

“The embattled Philippine News Agency (PNA) vowed to review its procedures to ensure that there will be no repeat of the use of a ‘fake’ photo of the Marawi clashes in one of its articles…. Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, however, was on the defensive when it came to the wrong photo she shared on her Facebook page.”

See also:

InterAksyon: “PNA apologizes for wrong reports; NUJP hits Abella’s ‘bald threat’ vs press freedom


Rappler.com: “House OKs bill protecting broadcast, online journalists

“The House approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks to include legitimate online and broadcast journalists among the media practitioners who cannot be forced to reveal their news sources…. Lawmakers gave their to nod House Bill (HB) Number 684 on Monday evening, May 29, with a vote of 220-0-0.”

See also:

Manila Standard: “House okays bill on press freedom


Rappler.com: “Do we want a neutral or sponsored internet?

“The debates surrounding net neutrality have yet to enter the Philippine mainstream, but for the past decade, lawmakers have taken steps to establish policies that protect Internet freedom.”



The Nation: “UK journalist faces Thai jail for carrying protective gear

“A British journalist faces jail time after he was arrested at Thailand’s main airport with a gas mask and plates for a bullet-proof vest, which police said Tuesday (30 May 2017) breached a law that classifies the protective gear as war weapons…. Anthony Cheng, who works for Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, was detained at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport Monday (29 May 2017) night on his way to report in the war-torn Iraqi city of Mosul where troops are battling the Islamic State group.”

See also:

CNN: “British journalist arrested in Thailand for carrying body armor
Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT): “FCCT statement on journalists and body armour


The Nation: “Prayut again refuses to speak to media

“Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha refused to speak at a press conference after the Cabinet meeting at Government House on Tuesday (30 May 2017).”

See also:

Bangkok Post: “Prayut sulks, refuses to speak directly to reporters


Bangkok Post: “Reporters to be trained to aid reform

“Prominent social thinker Prawase Wasi has thrown his support behind a proposal to set up an institute aimed at training members of the media to ensure they are not influenced by politicians or big business…. The idea was among a range of issues relating to media reform efforts discussed at a meeting attended by executives of media professional organisations…. They included the National Press Council of Thailand, the Thai Journalists Association, the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, the Isra Institute and the Thai Press Development Foundation.”


Bangkok Post: “NBTC considers OTT control options

“The broadcasting regulator is considering putting the top 100 content providers for over-the-top (OTT) service platforms on a control list, as officials strive to establish industry standards and a level playing field…. Popular content providers on OTT platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, with more than 1 million followers or subscriptions are categorised as the top 100 accounts…. The plan is part of a regulatory policy by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), under which measures will be imposed on the local OTT market to curb internet content that is difficult to regulate, said Col Natee Sukonrat, chairman of NBTC’s broadcasting committee.”


Timor Leste

SBS News: “East Timor reporters cleared of PM defamation charge

“Two East Timor journalists accused of defaming the prime minister were found not guilty by a Dili court on Thursday (1 June 2017), in a case that had sparked alarm among press freedom campaigners…. Dozens of local journalists crowded the courtroom to support reporter Raimundos Oki and his former editor Lourenco Vicente Martins as the court ruled on a suit launched by Prime Minister Rui Aria de Araujo over an article in the Timor Post.”

See also:

abcNEWS: “East Timor court drops premier’s libel case against media
The Guardian. “‘I’m not a criminal’: press freedom stands trial in Timor-Leste
The Sydney Morning Herald: “East Timor PM Rui Maria de Araujo asks for leniency for journalists he sued” ; “Timorese journalists must be set free to protect country’s fledgling media
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). “Victory for press freedom: Timor journalists spared from jail



Please refer to this blog for other media, press freedom, and free expression stories not included in this roundup.

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