WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (3 – 9 February 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)



Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): “Kodao Productions Website Attacked

See also:

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). Statement: “NUJP condemns online attack against Kodao


Three block-time broadcasters arrested for libel in Quezon


CMFR: “Police Surveys Reporters as part of PNP Policy

See also:

NUJP slams PNP’s ‘Gestapo-like’ background checks on journos




Draft of the Revised Penal Code Bill


Southeast Asia

Nikkei Asian Review: “ASEAN remains ‘prime target’ for cyberattacks

“Countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations remain a prime target for cyberattacks as the region becomes more closely linked through trade, capital flows and technology, making it more prone to complex cyberattacks, including state-sponsored activity from North Korea, according to a report by global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney.”



Al Jazeera. “Cambodia: Media blackout by design

“A concerted campaign is under way to silence opposition figures, NGOs and media outlets refusing to toe the government’s line. Three months ago, the government dissolved the opposition party, arrested its leader on charges of treason, which prompted more than half of the opposition’s MPs to flee the country…. Multiple media outlets, both on the airwaves and in print, have been forced to shut down over tax evasion charges that journalists say are simply designed to silence voices of dissent.”

See also:

The Phnom Penh Post: “Cambodia Daily’s website, Twitter blocked by government order
Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Cambodia Blocks Online Access to Shuttered Cambodia Daily
Voice of America (VOA): “Cambodian Government Blocks Online Access to Newspaper


Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Cambodian Opposition Activist Arrested For ‘Insulting’ Ruling Party

“Cambodian police arrested a former opposition party activist on Thursday on charges of insulting the ruling Cambodian People’s Party after the woman, who had fled the country to avoid arrest, was expelled from neighboring Thailand for overstaying her visa, Cambodian media reported today (8 February 2018)…. Sam Sokha, 38, had posted a video on April 1, 2017, of herself throwing a shoe against a billboard bearing photos of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly President Heng Samrin, saying, ‘These are the men who are destroying our nation.'”


Channel News Asia (CNA). “New lese majeste law to ‘scare’ Cambodians: Ministry spokesman

“A spokesman for Cambodia’s Interior Ministry says the country’s new proposed lese majeste law was designed to ‘scare’ the public…. A draft amendment to make insulting the king criminal offence was approved by the Cambodian government on Friday (Feb 2), prompting wider fears about a crackdown on civil rights and freedom of expression.”

See also:

The Phnom Penh Post. “Proposed lèse majesté law, changes to Constitution undermine freedoms: rights group” ; “Lèse majesté law for Cambodia advances
Asian Correspondent: “Unpacking the dangers of Cambodia’s proposed lèse majesté law


BBC: “Cambodia Facebook feud hits California courts

“Lawyers for exiled Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy have filed legal action against Facebook, in a case that highlights how the quest for ‘likes’ has gripped the small Southeast Asian country’s leading politicians…. The petition in US federal courts asks the social media giant to disclose information related to the popularity of the Facebook page of Sam Rainsy’s rival, Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose Facebook page ranked third in global engagement among world leaders, according to public relations firm Burson-Marsteller.”



The Straits Times: “BBC journalist told to leave Papua over tweets about health crisis

“A foreign journalist covering the health crisis in Asmat, Papua, was forced to leave the region after the Indonesian Military (TNI) objected to a series of tweets she had posted about the health emergency in the remote regency…. Rebecca Henschke, an editor at BBC Indonesia, the local arm of London-Based BBC News, was reportedly forced on Friday (Feb 2) to end her reporting about the recent measles outbreak and widespread malnutrition in Asmat.”

See also:

The Jakarta Post: “AJI slams ‘expulsion’ of BBC journalists from Papua
TEMPO.CO: “BBC Journalist Expulsion from Asmat Threatens Press Freedom
Radio New Zealand (RNZ): “BBC journalists banned from reporting on Papua outbreaks
Voice of America (VOA): “Papua Health Crisis Prompts International Scrutiny, Internal Review
Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “RSF’s decries journalist’s expulsion from Indonesia’s Papua region
Human Rights Watch (HRW): “BBC Correspondent Detained in Indonesia Now Freed


The Jakarta Post. “EDITORIAL: Securing press freedom

“In regulating press freedom, the government must consider the basic values of democracy, the state’s guarantee and protection of freedom of speech. In addition, the state must guarantee diversity of information for the public. To protect press freedom from exploitation from powerful media organizations, including the television industry which benefits from public frequency for the interest of political groups, there must be tighter regulations with harsh penalties for violators.”


BenarNews. “Indonesia: Muslim Clerics Push Lawmakers to Outlaw Gay, Extramarital Sex

“The bill also includes an article advocates see as a setback to Indonesia’s progressive democratization and freedom of expression by outlawing criticism of the government’s leaders. The article states punishment for “publicly insulting the president or the vice president” is up to five years in prison.”



Malay Mail Online. “Minister: Fake news committee to get everyone’s views

“The government committee formed to legislate against fake news will consider as many opinions as possible before finalising anything, a minister said today (4 February 2018), amid concerns from Opposition politicians and civil society…. Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak said the committee, headed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, will submit an early draft of its discussions to the Cabinet as soon as possible.”

See also:

Azalina: Fake news committee to meet academics, experts


Malay Mail Online: “Review Data Act so action can be taken against government for misconduct, Putrajaya told

“A group consisting of civil societies and ‘concerned individuals’ today called for the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 to be reviewed so that federal and state governments will be held responsible for any leaks of personal data that they collect…. The group of 13 organisations and four individuals said the recent cases of data leak show that the Act, short for PDPA, must be reviewed to include governments and government agencies in order to mitigate future breaches.”



Myanmar Times: “Reuters journalists say police statements signed under duress

“Two journalists from the Reuters international news agency, facing criminal charges for allegedly violating the country’s Official Secrets Act, told the court Tuesday (6 February 2018) that the statements they signed under police custody were done so under duress…. Wa Lone, 31 and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, told the court at the resumption of the trial that they were threatened into signing the statements, although they contained many factual errors, including the place where they were arrested, according to their lawyer, U Than Zaw Aung.”

See also:

Reuters: “Reuters reporters arrested in Myanmar due to appear in court” ; “Myanmar policeman who arrested Reuters reporters tells court he burned his notes” ; “Reuters report on Myanmar massacre brings calls for independent probe
Al Jazeera. “Reuters: Journalists held for probing Rohingya massacre
Voice of America (VOA): “Discrepancies Widen in Case Against Myanmar Journalists
BBC. “Rohingya crisis: Reuters journalists held ‘for investigating Myanmar killings’
Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT): “Release Myanmar Journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo | Petitioning the Myanmar Government


The Irrawaddy: “Rakhine Govt to Sue AP over Report of Mass Graves in Buthidaung

“The Rakhine State Government plans to sue The Associated Press for falsely reporting the existence of mass graves near Gutar Pyin Village in Buthidaung Township, northern Rakhine State…. The state government is discussing with the attorney general of Rakhine State, U Kyaw Hla Tun, the possibility of a lawsuit against the news agency, according to Colonel Phone Tint, the state minister for security and border affairs.”

See also:

Rakhine State to Send Lawsuit Against Associated Press to Union Govt
Radio Free Asia (RFA). “Interview: The Associated Press ‘Needs to Apologize to Myanmar And Correct The Report’


The Straits Times: “Myanmar journalist receives AFP’s Kate Webb Prize

“Reporter Mratt Kyaw Thu received the 2017 Agence France-Presse Kate Webb Prize on Monday (Feb 5) for his courageous coverage of ethnic and religious conflict in Myanmar’s borderlands.”



Rappler.com: “NUJP slams cyberattack on Kodao Productions’ website

“The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Friday, February 2, condemned an apparent cyberattack on the website of news outfit Kodao Productions…. Kodao Productions on Friday said they were unable to access their website, Kodao.org, at around midnight.”

See also:

Asia Pacific Report: “RSF condemns new gagging threats to outspoken Philippine media outlets
INQUIRER.net. “Press freedom group to solons: Renew CBCP broadcast franchise
Altermidya: “Kodao, Rappler, Vera Files and the ongoing assault on the media
Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “New threats to outspoken Philippine media outlets


College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP): “Arrest of three newsmen in Quezon a flagrant attack to press freedom

“Three veteran newsmen were arrested for libel yesterday (5 February 2018) for allegedly giving a false, reckless, and defamatory aspersions against the most powerful political dynasty in the Quezon province…. Last 2017, multiple counts of libel were filed against Senior News Correspondent of Journal Group of Publications Gemi Formaran, Ang Diaryo Natin publisher Johnny Glorioso and dzEL Radyo Agila anchor Rico Catampungan.”


Philippine Daily Inquirer: “PNP’s media background check ‘closer to home’

“Are reporters covering the Philippine National Police (PNP) now considered a threat to national security? This question arose in the PNP press row after several reporters who had applied for accreditation at Camp Crame learned that police officers conducted a background check on them by going to the barangays where they live.”

See also:

Media Union hits PNP’s ‘Gestapo-like’ methods


SunStar Cagayan de Oro: “Press club asks PNP to replace spokesperson

“The Cagayan de Oro Press Club Inc. (COPC) is asking the Philippine National Police (PNP) to look into and possibly replace spokesperson of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Northern Mindanao after several media practitioners complained of alleged intimidation and suppression of their rights.”


Rappler.com: “Roque claims mainstream media doesn’t report the truth

“Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in an interview with a supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, claimed that mainstream media does not report facts, hence the need to turn to pro-administration bloggers.”


The Manila Times: “InterAksyon to operate under Philstar Group

“TV5’s news portal InterAksyon.com will continue its operations under the management of Philstar Global Group instead of shutting down by March as earlier reported, a top official of Mediaquest Holdings, Inc. said.”


National Endowment for Democracy (NED). “Forum Q&A: Maria Ressa on digital disinformation and Philippine democracy in the balance

“Dean Jackson of the International Forum for Democratic Studies spoke with Maria Ressa about her experience working as a journalist in a rapidly deteriorating media environment and the impact of social media on the trajectory of democracy in Southeast Asia.”


Rappler.com: “[OPINION] Fake news from an international perspective

“Under the present circumstances, there may be a need to look at the international standards on freedom of expression and the experiences of other countries which may provide guidance and shed light on the issue of fake news.”


Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Mysterious encounter with ‘telco man’

“Jover Laurio, the person behind the popular Pinoy Ako Blog (PAB), was moved to a safehouse with a security detail on Wednesday night, following a suspicious incident involving an unidentified man who had gone to her house…. Laurio—voted as one of Inquirer’s 2017 Filipinos of the Year—initially posted her concern on her Facebook page, after which she blogged about the incident in detail.”


GMA News: “House OKs bill strengthening free expression, peaceable assembly

“The House of Representatives on Monday (5 February 2018) approved on third and final reading a measure which seeks to strengthen the right of the Filipinos to free expression, peaceably assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances…. Voting 212-5, the chamber approved House Bill 6834, a measure which aims to repeal Batas Pambansa Blg. 880 or the ‘Public Assembly Act of 1985.'”

See also:

Int’l group of jurists calls new Public Assembly bill as ‘unlawful’



Prachatai English: “Peace TV faces 15-day broadcast ban

“The Thai media regulator has suspended the broadcasting licence of a TV station run by the red shirts. This is the fourth time the channel has been banned under the junta…. On 6 February 2018, Thida Thavornseth, an executive of Peace TV, posted on her Facebook account that the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBCT) had suspended the broadcasting licence of the station for 15 days, starting from midnight that night.”


Bangkok Post: “Yongyuth sues TV host Chuvit for defamation

“Former House speaker Yongyuth Tiyapairat on Monday (5 February 2018) morning filed two defamation lawsuits against TV news chat show host Chuvit Kamolvisit and others over broadcasts linking him to alleged criminal activities…The lawsuits were triggered by two television programmes in which Mr Yongyuth’s alleged links with Chiang Rai Football Club and alleged illegal activities in relation to financial aspects of Victoria’s Secret massage parlour were discussed.”


Khaosod English: “Citizen bow and the making an anti-junta protest leader

“Answering a reporter’s question about what she thought of having her Tuesday news conference shut down, Nuttaa Mahattana minced no words…. ‘What the NCPO did today was violate press freedom,’ she said, referring to the ruling junta by acronym…. The 39-year-old anti-junta activist had been only a few minutes into her comments at an impromptu news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand when she was interrupted.”

See also:

Arrest us tomorrow, wanted MBK39 leaders taunt police
Reuters: “Thirty-five Thai activists report to police after junta protest” ; “Thailand issues arrest warrants against four activists


East Asia Forum: “Lese majeste remained the Thai state’s mailed fist in 2017

“According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, at least 138 people were charged with lese majeste during the first three years of rule by the NCPO (National Council for Peace and Order). Many of those charged chose to plead guilty, as innocent verdicts are rare and confessions result in an automatic halving of one’s sentence and increase one’s eligibility for a royal pardon.”



ABC News: “Vietnam jails activist for livestreaming pollution march

“A court in central Vietnam sentenced an activist to 14 years in jail Tuesday (6 February 2018) for livestreaming fishermen marching to file a lawsuit against a Taiwan-owned steel plant’s spill of toxins into the ocean…. Following a trial by the People’s Court in Nghe An province that lasted half a day Tuesday, Hoang Duc Binh was convicted of abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state, organization and people and opposing officers on duty, lawyer Ha Huy Son said.”


Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Four years in prison for Vietnamese blogger

“After Vietnamese blogger Ho Van Hai’s four-year jail sentence at the end of secret trial yesterday (1 February 2018), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the international community to step up its pressure on Vietnam to end its repeated violations of the freedom to inform…. Charged with ‘anti-state propaganda’ under 88 of the penal code, Hai, 52, was sentenced to four years in prison followed by two years of house arrest. After being held for more than a year, he was tried behind closed doors in Ho Chi Minh City without his lawyers being present.”


CBS News: “U.S. teacher in trouble for comments about late Vietnamese general

“An American teacher in Vietnam is in trouble for making offensive comments about one of the country’s most revered figures. Daniel Hauer, an English teacher in Hanoi, commented on Facebook that he was getting a genital piercing with a part in the shape of late Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, a national hero who fought the French and American invaders. Giap died at age 102 in 2013.”

See also:

BBC: “US citizen accused of ‘insulting’ Vietnamese national hero
ASEAN Economist: “Giap ‘testicle’ gag and online freedom



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

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