Weekly Media Roundup (29 September – 5 October 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) 

Report: 

IFEX: “Outrage over jailed journalists and activists, two big wins for LGBTQI+, and more” 

 

Cambodia 

Human Rights Foundation (HRF). “HRF to UN: Investigate Arbitrary Arrests in Cambodia and Iran” 

“Today (4 October 2018), the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) submitted two individual complaints to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) requesting that it initiate a formal investigation into the arrest, pre-trial detention, and unwarranted charges of Cambodian journalists Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, as well as the wrongful conviction and harsh sentencing of Iranian web programmer Saeed Malekpour. Uon and Yeang formerly reported on land rights and social issues for Radio Free Asia, an independent media outlet that was forced to close its Phnom Penh office in September 2017. Malekpour, an Iranian-Canadian technologist, created an open source software program to improve website photograph uploads, and was arrested 10 years ago today.” 

 

Indonesia 

Quartz: “Tsunami-hit Indonesia is now also battling fake disaster news” 

“On Thursday (4 October 2018), police said that they had arrested eight people in recent days for spreading false information, known in Indonesia as ‘hoax news.’ The false information included Facebook posts predicting another major earthquake imminently. Other false reports included one on the supposed death of the mayor of Palu, and another that said a major dam on the island had cracked and was about to burst. Other images and accounts exaggerated the seriousness of a volcanic eruption on Sulawesi this week. These false stories appear to have spread primarily through social media.” 

See also: 

BBC. “Indonesia tsunami: Authorities fight hoaxes” 

 

Malaysia 

The Star Online: “No censorship during the Umno General Assembly, says information chief” 

“There is no censorship of the media coverage for the Umno General Assembly 2018, says party information chief Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah…. He said that the party did not block the dissemination of any information, control the content of the debates or block any coverage by the media throughout the assembly.” 

See also: 

Free Malaysia Today (FMT): “Umno denies delayed telecast an attempt to censor debates” 

Malaysiakini: “Umno denies censoring delegates’ debates at AGM” 

 

New Straits Times: “Report lodged against news portal over malicious Project IC 2.0 article” 

“A retired teacher has lodged a police report against a news portal, which published a malicious article alleging that illegal immigrants were given identity cards…. Peter @ Isong Daigo, 58, lodged the report here this morning (30 September 2018)…. The article titled ‘Hundreds throng NRD counter, sparking fear of Project IC 2.0 in Sabah’ was published yesterday.” 

 

ABS-CBN News. “(Opinions) BFM 89.9: As news media looks to tank, a talk radio station is on the verge of expansion” 

“BFM with its resolute focus on talk (no, not music) has an estimated audience of over 350,000 listeners – just under 5% of the Klang Valley’s approximately eight million overall population…. In an era of niche marketing and community-building, BFM 89.9 could be said to ‘own’ Malaysia’s corporate, professional and managerial elite, providing a compelling platform to advertisers even in this era of social media.” 

 

Myanmar 

Reuters: “Amal Clooney calls on Myanmar’s Suu Kyi to pardon Reuters reporters” 

“The families of two Reuters reporters imprisoned in Myanmar have asked for a pardon, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney told a press freedom event at the United Nations on Friday (28 September 2018) as she pressed the country’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to agree…. Clooney is a member of the legal team representing Reuters journalists Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, who were convicted on Sept. 3 under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act and sentenced to seven years in prison.” 

See also: 

Radio Free Asia (RFA). “Interview: ‘The Trial Was Just a Way to Silence The Journalists’” ; “Former Myanmar Government Minister Calls For Retrial of Jailed Reuters Reporters” 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “RSF warns Myanmar about threat to World Press Freedom Index ranking” 

UCANews.com: “Myanmar media feel unsafe as press freedom wanes” 

PEN America: “House Resolution Calls on Myanmar to Release Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo” 

 

The Irrawaddy: “Local Weekly Newspaper Charged for Satirical Article” 

“The Dawei Township Court charged the regional weekly Tanintharyi Journal on Monday (1 October 2018) under the Media Law for a satirical article published last year…. Daw Aye Mon Thu, the advocate representing the defendant told The Irrawaddy that the judge read out the decision, ‘As the [satirical] piece is believed to be aiming to undermine the dignity of the Tenasserim Regional government and thus it is charged and we have to give an explanation.'” 

 

The Irrawaddy: “Guest Column | Right to Information and the Need for Reform” 

“We call on the government to address two major issues with governance, the lack of respect for the right to information and the continued existence of unjust and undemocratic laws.” 

 

Frontier Myanmar: “State-owned media the most trusted, study finds” 

“A study of media habits in Myanmar has found that many consumers believe state-owned newspapers and broadcasters provide the most trustworthy and reliable news and information…. Other findings were that consumers preferred locally-based media and news on topics relating to their lives, and that although television remained the most popular news medium, social media, and Facebook in particular, were catching up.” 

 

Philippines 

Rappler.com: “Police visit newspaper office in Bacolod to ask for favorable coverage” 

“The Philippine National Police (PNP) is employing the door-to-door approach beyond its campaign against drugs. It’s knocking on the doors of media offices to ask for favorable coverage…. On Wednesday, October 3, a team from the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office visited the newsroom of SunStar Bacolod, part of a chain of newspapers that has a presence in key cities nationwide.” 

See also: 

INQUIRER.net: “Police visit to Bacolod newspaper office not meant to intimidate — Albayalde” 

 

ABS-CBN News: “ABS-CBN anchor sues colleagues for sexual harassment, libel” 

“ABS-CBN News anchor and reporter Gretchen Fullido on Friday (5 October 2018) filed criminal charges against a former network producer and several colleagues, citing sexual harassment, libel and victim-shaming…. In a news release posted on Facebook, Fullido’s lawyer Marvin Aceron said the reporter, a showbiz anchor on TV Patrol, filed before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office a sexual harassment complaint against Cheryl Favila, former TV Patrol supervising producer, and Maricar Asprec, a segment producer.” 

 

The Philippine Star: “Massacre witness recants testimony vs Ampatuan” 

“A witness in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre has recanted his testimony implicating primary suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr. in the multiple murder case, The STAR has learned on Friday (28 September 2018)…. Witness Thonti Lawani, who was presented by the prosecution panel in 2011, was put forward by the camp of Ampatuan earlier this month to retract his earlier claim that he saw the suspect at the massacre site…. In his 10-page judicial affidavit obtained by The STAR, Lawani claimed that he was pressured by the family of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu to testify against Ampatuan.” 

 

Bulatlat.com: “Filipino women journalists: attacked but unbowed” 

“The online harassment against (Julie) Alipala is just the latest in a string of attacks against Filipino women journalists. Under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, women journalists and the Philippine media in general face more threats to press freedom…. In fact, since Duterte came to power in June 2016 until May this year, media watchdogs have documented 85 cases of attacks and threats against journalists ranging from killings, death threats, surveillance, website attacks, verbal abuse and strafing, among others. Twelve journalists have been gunned down under the Duterte administration and no one has been punished for the killings.” 

 

ABS-CBN News: “Filmmakers, artists condemn red-tagging of movie screenings” 

“Why is the government afraid of films? Filmmakers, artists and educators asked this question in a press conference at the University of the Philippines Diliman on Friday (5 October 2018) as they denounced the military’s allegations that film screenings about martial law were being used to recruit students into the communist movement.” 

See also: 

Rappler.com. “CHR: Linking schools to Red October plot endangers students” 

philstar.com. “LIST: Film industry workers denying alleged ‘Red October’ involvement” 

 

Singapore 

The Online Citizen (TOC): “Civil rights activist Jolovan Wham alleges lack of transparency in police investigations, possible abuse of power” 

“Civil rights activist Jolovan Wham has called into question the transparency – or a lack thereof – in the police force’s investigations, particularly with regards to extracting information and confessions from individuals being interrogated.” 

See also: 

South China Morning Post: “Singapore activist Jolovan Wham on trial for organising forum featuring Joshua Wong” 

 

The Straits Times: “Activist fined $2,500 for illegal procession from Hong Lim Park to Parliament House” 

“Artist and activist Seelan Palay was jailed for two weeks on Wednesday (Oct 3) after refusing to pay a fine imposed for being part of a public procession without a permit…. Seelan was arrested last October when he walked from Hong Lim Park to the National Gallery and then to Parliament House as part of a performance art piece but without a permit, a court was told.” 

 

BuzzFeed News: “Why A New Fake News Law In Singapore Could Be A Big Test For Facebook, Google, And Twitter” 

“Based on the committee’s recommendations, Singapore’s law could include the above elements and more. Just as notable, Singapore’s approach will present a unique challenge for Facebook, Google, and Twitter. All three made Singapore their Asian headquarters and have significant operations in the country…. The platforms now must prepare to enforce an as-yet-undrafted new law on behalf of a government frequently criticized by humans rights groups for its repression of freedom of expression and its authoritarian approach to speech. If they don’t, it could put their Asian operations at risk.” 

See also: 

Philippine Daily Inquirer: ” (Opinion) SISYPHUS’ LAMENT | Singapore teaches Asia how to fight fake news” 

The Straits Times: “(Opinion) Slaying the fake news monster” 

 

Thailand 

The Nation: “Junta reins in lese majeste” 

“The country saw the most aggressive enforcement of the lese majeste law after the junta came to power in 2014, but current trends point to an unprecedented relaxation, according to iLaw.” 

 

Khaosod English: “Online freedom exhibit at TCDC talks memes, pixels, censorship” 

“A UNESCO-curated exhibition on Thai internet freedom launched Friday (28 September 2018) at a downtown design-hub to mark Universal Access to Information Day. Through six displays, ranging from hand-drawn infographics to documentaries, artists portray the Thainet as a double-edged sword, granting connectivity on one side but distortion and censorship on the other.” 

 

Vietnam 

The Washington Post: “Global Opinions | How Facebook is damaging freedom of expression in Vietnam” 

“Today in Vietnam, Facebook is allowing its platform to be abused to divide and isolate people. Troll farms and cyber-army brigades roam the platform, manipulating public opinion and drowning out dissent. Paid government supporters abuse Facebook’s community standards to have critical posts deleted. In the past month alone, many of Vietnam’s leading independent journalists and human rights defenders have had their accounts frozen. The stakes are high as we risk losing the only space where we can speak freely.” 

 

NOTE 

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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