WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (29 July – 4 August 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)

Alerts:

[Myanmar]
Burma News International (BNI)
Veteran Myanmar reporter detained at airport

Three journalists produced before the court for a third time in Hsipaw

 

[Philippines]
Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR)
Radio Commentator Survives Slay Attempt

 

Brunei

Global Voices: “Brunei Government Employee Complaining About Halal Certification Charged with Sedition Over Facebook Post

“A government employee in Brunei was charged with violating the Sedition Act over a Facebook post in which he criticized a newly released Halal certification policy…. A Halal-certified food product is one that has been endorsed by an accredited religious authority as meeting Islamic standards…. On July 16, 2017, Shahiransheriffuddin bin Shahrani Muhammad complained on Facebook (where he posts under the name Shahiran S. Leong) about new Halal certification regulations released by the Ministry of Religious Affairs.”

 

Cambodia

The Phnom Penh Post: “Government’s ‘chilling effect’ on free speech

“Government monitoring of online activities could have a ‘devastating effect’ on freedom of expression in Cambodia, according to a new study, with most people saying that they felt less comfortable freely expressing themselves online while under such surveillance.”

 

The Phnom Penh Post: “Hun Sen calls for closure of anti-trafficking group after CNN report

“Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday called for the closure of a Christian anti-trafficking NGO during a heated tirade at a graduation ceremony, condemning them and CNN for broadcasting an ‘insulting’ story about girls who were sold into sexual slavery by their own mothers.”

 

Khmer Times: “Sam Rainsy ban becomes law

“Controversial amendments to the Law on Political Parties have been signed into law by acting head of state Say Chhum…. The amendments, made official on Friday, bar parties from maintaining any link to anyone with a criminal conviction. Critics say they are aimed at isolating former opposition leader Sam Rainsy.”

 

Indonesia

Al Jazeera: “Indonesia to lift ban on Telegram app

“The Indonesian government has lifted its threat to ban the encrypted messaging app Telegram saying it has taken steps to block ‘negative’ content that includes forums for ISIL supporters.”

 

Malaysia

Free Malaysia Today: “Cenbet calls for review of government censorship process

“Following the government’s ban on a book authored by a group of eminent Malay moderates, the Centre for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) says the home ministry should review its censorship process for print publications…. In a statement today (31 July 2017), the NGO’s co-president Gan Ping Sieu said this was not the first time the ministry’s decision to ban certain books had attracted bad press for the country.”

See also:

“(Comment) No basis for ban on G25 book

 

Malay Mail Online. “Suhakam: Need for freedom of information law alongside OSA

“Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) believes that transparency can be achieved with the introduction of a freedom of information law alongside the Official Secrets Act (OSA)…. By so doing, Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said both laws would be able to act as checks and balances between the government and society and also in ensuring that transparency and national security were jointly protected.”

 

Myanmar

Reuters: “Myanmar journalist detained, bailed ahead of defamation trial

“One of Myanmar’s best known journalists was released on bail on Monday (31 July 2017), his lawyer said, but is set to stand trial for allegedly defaming firebrand Buddhist monk Wirathu on social media…. Swe Win, chief editor of news agency Myanmar Now, was detained at Yangon’s airport on Sunday evening, raising concerns about freedom of expression in the country, where four other prominent journalists have been detained in recent months.”

See also:

The Irrawaddy: “Jailed Myanmar Now Editor Released on Bail
Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Prominent Myanmar Journalist Released on Bail Until Trial on Defamation Charges
Frontier Myanmar: “Myanmar Now editor Ko Swe Win arrested at Yangon Airport
DVB: “High-profile journalist detained at Rangoon airport
Karen News: “Burmese Government Continues Its Crackdown on Journalists…
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Myanmar journalist arrested at airport ahead of criminal defamation trial

 

DVB: “The Voice chief editor released on bail

“Following more than two months’ detention, The Voice Daily’s chief editor Kyaw Min Swe was released on a 10 million kyats ($7,350) bail by a Rangoon court on Friday (4 August 2017) morning, according to the defendant’s lawyer.”

See also:

Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Yangon Court Releases Detained Editor on Bail

 

The Irrawaddy: “Jailed for Journalism

“All of the arrests are directly linked to the work of the reporters, exacerbating fears of a clampdown on independent media and casting serious doubts over whether the country is opening a new chapter on press freedom.”

 

Coconuts Yangon: “NLD votes to keep prison sentences for Facebook posts

“Myanmar’s parliament voted yesterday (2 August 2017) to pass only minor reforms to the country’s Telecommunications Law, opting to preserve prison sentences as a punishment for Facebook posts that mention other people…. The changes to the law will allow defendants in online defamation cases to be released on bail and will prohibit uninvolved parties from suing people under the law. People convicted for online defamation, which is vaguely described in the law’s controversial Section 66(d), will still face prison sentences of up to three years, plus the possibility of a fine.”

See also:

Anadolu Agency (AA). “Myanmar: Parliament resists changing Net defamation law
VOA: “Rights Group Slams Myanmar’s Upper House for Defamation Law Amendment

 

Philippines

ABS-CBN News. “OPINION: Fourth Estate under fire

“In our current era, when the world is experiencing a revival of strongman rule, a shared characteristic of strongman types is a burning hatred for the media. Ironically, never has the sharing of information been so easy and yet, so susceptible to what has come to be known as fake news. A recent poll showed that for most people who get their news from social media, they are hard-pressed to recall the sources of the news in their feed…. This makes it easy to lump together the fake with the real, and to generally lower opinion of all media. It helps foster the view that media is unessential, and makes constitutional safeguards not just of free speech, but a free press, irrelevant. But so long as those guarantees remain enshrined in our Constitution and laws, a free press has a fighting chance.”

 

Rappler.com: “Duterte signs law providing free internet in public places

“Filipinos can expect to gain free Internet access when they visit any public establishment in the Philippines after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No 10929…. The new law, signed by Duterte on Wednesday, August 3, creates a ‘Free Internet Access Program’ in all public places in the country.”

See also:

CNN Philippines: “Duterte signs law on free internet access

 

BusinessMirror: “Obeying data-privacy rules seen giving PHL firms competitive edge

“In the information age, compliance to data-privacy and data-protection regulations are considered by organizations as a competitive advantage in their business operations. This was confirmed by contact-center managers and data-protection experts at the recent Data Privacy Asia conference organized by the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP).”

 

Singapore

Al Jazeera: “Lee Kuan Yew’s grandson faces threat of legal action

“Singapore’s government has announced it is taking legal action against the grandson of founding leader Lee Kuan Yew over a Facebook post linked to an ongoing family feud…. In a statement late on Friday (4 August 2017), the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) said it was applying for permission to prosecute Li Shengwu over a July Facebook post in which he alleged the government was litigious and stifling freedom of speech over the issue.”

 

Thailand

Prachatai English: “Veteran journalist accused of sedition over Facebook posts

“The police have accused a veteran journalist known for his anti-junta stand of sedition over Facebook posts critical of the junta…. On 1 August 2017, Pravit Rojanaphruk, a senior reporter at Khaosod English, who has consistently criticised Thailand’s junta and the lèse majesté law, posted on his Facebook account that the Technology Crime Suppression Division accused him of violation of Article 116 of the Criminal Code, the sedition law.”

See also:

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Pravit Rojanaphruk, CPJ honoree, accused of sedition in Thailand”

 

Khaosod English: “Trial of ‘Pai Dao Din’ for Facebook share opens in Khon Kaen

“The trial of a recent law school graduate for sharing a biography deemed to defame King Rama X began Thursday (3 August 2017) in a provincial court in the northeastern city of Khon Kaen.”

 

Khaosod English: “Expert says new regulations coerce online platforms to self-censor

“The final regulations written to facilitate the removal of online content under the new Computer Crime Act illustrate the government’s bid to extend its control to alternative media, a computer law expert said last week…. Kanathip Thongraweewong, an associate professor at Kasem Bundit University and the director of its Institute of Digital Media Law in Bangkok, said it’s not just the new rules but the process itself that will push the webmasters and independent platforms who’ve not fallen in line with the regime to adopt what he called compulsory self-censorship.”

 

Vietnam

Defend the Defenders: “Hanoi Police Summon Reporters of Independent Chan Hung Nuoc Viet TV Channel for Interrogation

“Security forces in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi have summoned several reporters of the independent Chan Hung Nuoc Viet (Vietnam Revival) Television Channel to local police stations to work on relations with the founder of the channel, imprisoned prisoner of conscience Vu Quang Thuan…. Independent journalists Phan Van Bach, Le Van Dung and Le Trong Hung were asked to be at the Security Investigation Agency under Hanoi’s Department of Public Security next week where they would be requested to answer police’s questions about the channel and his founder, who was arrested on March 2 and charged with ‘conducting anti-state propaganda’ under Article 88 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code.”

 

NOTE

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

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