WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (3 – 9 March 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)



Prominent blogger detained anew



[Southeast Asia]

Scope: Features from the SEAPA Fellowship



Forum Jurnalis Perempuan Indonesia (FJPI, Indonesian Women Journalists Forum). Labor pains: Challenges of women journalists in Medan



Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR), Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). “Women Talk Back: We are not All Vagina




Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM). “Joint Statement: CSOs Launch Gender Equality Project, Call on RGC to Step Up Support for Women, LGBTQ Individuals



Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ): “In solidarity with women working in the media



National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on the coverage ban against Rappler and beat reporter Pia Ranada: “NUJP STATEMENT | A low point in pettiness


Southeast Asia

Heinrich Boell Foundation. “SOUTHEAST ASIA: Open Season for Professional Media?

“Journalists sued for espionage in Cambodia, and for using drones or supposedly violating the official secrets act in Myanmar. News outlets faced with financial penalties steep enough to cause them to go under, as it did in Cambodia. Media organizations in the Philippines repeatedly described as ‘fake news’ outlets by government officials chafing at critical reporting…. These are the tactics that Southeast Asia’s governments have been using of late to chip away at the space where media operates, and silence or discourage journalists from asking questions and challenging state narratives.”

See also:

SOUTHEAST ASIA: Time for a Pushback in Media Spaces


BroadAgenda Blog. “Pressing for Freedom: Letters from the Field Part 1

“Press freedom is under attack in ASEAN – but journalists all over the region are fighting back…. This International Women’s Day, BroadAgenda is proud to partner with Dr Nicole Curato for this exclusive two part series, featuring letters from those brave individuals in the field who face extraordinary challenges every day.”


EngageMedia. “#PressForProgress: Celebrating International Women’s Day

“To celebrate the International Women’s Day 2018, EngageMedia is presenting three documentaries from Southeast Asia tackling issues that many women are facing in this region especially focusing on gender parity.”



The Phnom Penh Post: “Ministry targets ‘fake news’

“The Ministry of Information held a closed-door meeting yesterday (6 March 2017) to discuss how to combat so-called fake news on social media…. Ministry spokesman Ouk Kimseng said Information Minister Khieu Kanharith called the meeting yesterday but declined to go into detail about the ideas discussed.”


The Phnom Penh Post: “Lèse majesté law now in effect

“A set of controversial laws and constitutional amendments was quietly signed by Senate President Say Chhum in place of the King last week, going into effect immediately despite the Justice Ministry previously claiming there would be a promulgation period…. The changes include a new lèse majesté law banning insults to the King and constitutional amendments restricting political participation. They have been roundly condemned by human rights advocates and the United Nations.”

See also:

Religion ministry mulls lawsuit against activist monk But Buntenh under lèse majesté
Channel News Asia: “UN ‘misunderstands’ Cambodia’s human rights reality



ABC. “Indonesia: Just how free is the press in South-East Asia’s largest democracy?

“…a recent report from US-based democracy watchdog Freedom House rated Indonesia as only ‘partly free’, with the same organisation’s analysis of press freedoms last year also handing down the same judgement…. Freedom House said while Indonesia had a vibrant media landscape, a recent law regulating online publications appeared to impede the work of journalists, and the interests of media owners were driving partisan reporting.”


The Jakarta Post: “Foreign researchers’ access to TNI museums restricted

“Foreign researchers can no longer freely enter museums run by the Indonesian Military (TNI) without permission from the TNI headquarters, in a new policy that one local historian says shows Indonesia to be ‘allergic to foreigners.'”

See also:

The Conversation: “What’s behind the move to limit foreign researchers’ access to Indonesia’s military museums?



Malaysiakini: “Anti-fake news law to be tabled to cabinet in ‘weeks’

“The final draft of the new law aimed at curbing the spread of fake news will be tabled to the cabinet soon, according to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said.”

See also:

BERNAMA. “Fake News: Agong’s Support In Proposed Law Reflects Concern
TODAY: “Malaysian King backs anti-fake news law
Free Malaysia Today. “Journalism body: Fake news law threatens media freedom
Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Malaysia would use ‘fake news’ law to crush media freedom


Free Malaysia Today: “Where is freedom of expression, asks Gerakan leader facing 3 suits by Guan Eng

“A Penang Gerakan leader today (6 March 2018) criticised Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for going against the right to freedom of expression by taking legal action against him over comments critical of the state government…. State Gerakan Youth chief Jason Loo said he had received three separate summonses for defamation suits against him by the chief minister.”

See also:

Malay Mail Online: “Penang Gerakan leader faces three defamation suits


BERNAMA: “Bloggers, Social Media Users Warned To Act Responsibly

“The government will step in and restore order to the internet if bloggers and social media users fail to act responsibly…In this regard, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) may be asked to monitor social media.”

See also:

The Malaysian Insight: “Internet clampdown threat shows Putrajaya is afraid, say Malaysians



Reuters: “Myanmar police witness says searched Reuters reporter’s home ‘for news’

“Police in Myanmar searched the family home of Reuters reporter Wa Lone looking for material ‘related to news’ the night after he and a colleague were arrested on suspicion of violating the Official Secrets Act, an officer told a court on Wednesday (7 March 2018).”

See also:

The Economist: “Arresting the messenger | Press freedom is waning in Myanmar


The Irrawaddy: “Hundreds March Against Proposed Changes to Peaceful Assembly Law

“Some 500 people took to the streets in Yangon on Monday (5 March 2018) to protest proposed amendments to the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law, which prescribes a three-year prison sentence for funding a protest…The protesters said the proposed amendments further restrict people’s freedom of expression and are so broadly defined that they could be exploited to stifle political dissent.”

See also:

Mizzima: “Parliament passes peaceful demonstration amendment bill
Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Activists, Civil Society Groups Protest Proposed Changes to Myanmar’s Public Assembly Law
The Asahi Shimbun: “Protesters slam plans to toughen Myanmar public assembly law
Reuters: “Protests as Myanmar parliament debates new curbs on demonstrations
UCAN News: “Concerns grow over freedom of expression in Myanmar


Thomson Reuters: “Reuters honors Myanmar journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo with the Baron Award

“The Reuters Baron Award recognizes journalists who stand out in their proven commitment to Reuters deep traditions of integrity and journalistic excellence, and is not given each year. This year, Reuters recognizes journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were detained in Myanmar on December 12, 2017. Their remarkable and courageous reporting on the Rohingya crisis is of global importance and underscores the importance of press freedom.”



Rappler.com: “Duterte expands coverage ban on Rappler outside Malacañang

“The ban on Rappler’s coverage of presidential engagements has been expanded to cover events outside the Palace and even those organized by the private sector, as its Malacañang reporter, Pia Ranada, found out on Tuesday, March 6…. Ranada was told by people manning the media registration table at the Go Negosyo 10th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit at the World Trade Center in Pasay City that she could not cover the event as she was not on the list of Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) members provided to the organizers.”

See also:

TIMELINE: Malacañang’s evolving statements on Rappler ban” ; “[OPINION] We’re not here to be your friends
GMA News: “Duterte’s ban on Rappler reporter sends disturbing signal —CMFR exec


Rappler.com: “BIR files tax evasion complaint vs Rappler Holdings

“The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Thursday, March 8, filed a tax evasion complaint against Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC), the agency said in a press release…. The complaint, filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ), alleges that RHC, together with its president Maria Ressa and treasurer James Bitanga, wilfully attempted to evade tax payments, as well as failed to provide accurate information in its income tax and value-added tax (VAT) returns for 2015.”

See also:

GMA News: “BIR slaps Rappler with P133.84-M tax evasion raps
CNN Philippines: “BIR slaps P133.8M tax evasion case vs. Rappler’s parent firm and Maria Ressa
INQUIRER.net: “BIR files tax evasion complaint vs Rappler before DOJ


Rappler.com: “NBI dismisses, then recommends cyber libel case vs Rappler

“A little over a week after it dismissed a libel case against Rappler, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Friday, March 2, recommended to the Department of Justice (DOJ) that the social news network be prosecuted for cyber libel over the same story published 5 years ago…. Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes confirmed on Friday, March 9, that the transmittal letter from the NBI was received by Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan.”

See also:

Rappler to NBI: Why revive case you already dismissed?” ; “Rappler’s cyber libel case will make Cybercrime Law unconstitutional – lawyer
Philippine News Agency (PNA): “NBI files cyber libel raps vs. Rappler
ABS-CBN News: “NBI files cyber libel rap vs Rappler
GMA News: “NBI files cyber libel complaint against Rappler
Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Rappler faces tax evasion, online libel raps
INQUIRER.net: “NBI files cyber libel case vs Rappler
SunStar Cebu. “Opinion | Seares: Cyber libel a continuing crime? NBI uses theory against Rappler


ABS-CBN News: “Marcos-era journos decry ‘deja vu’ under Duterte

“Women journalists who witnessed censorship during the Marcos dictatorship said they have been experiencing ‘deja vu’ under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.”

See also:

GMA News. “Veteran broadcaster on media censorship: History seems to repeat itself
Rappler.com: “Pass or fail? Women journalists rate PH presidents on respect for press freedom


ABS-CBN News: “DOJ finds probable cause to indict ex-Top Gear editor-in-chief

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) has found probable cause to indict former Top Gear Philippines editor-in-chief Vernon Sarne of cyber libel for wrongfully identifying a person as the gunman in a 2016 shooting incident…. The complaint was filed in 2016 by Nestor Punzalan after he was wrongfully identified by Top Gear Philippines as the gunman behind the shooting of a cyclist in Quiapo, Manila.”

See also:

GMA News: “DOJ OKs libel charges vs. ex-Top Gear PHL editor over FB post
INQUIRER.net: “DOJ approves filing of cyber libel raps vs ex-Top Gear editor” ; “Manila RTC orders arrest of ex-Top Gear editor in cyber libel case
BusinessMirror: “DOJ indicts ex-Top Gear PHL scribe for ‘cyber libel’


GMA News. “Puno: Con-com to drop House panel’s proposed limit to free speech

“Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno on Tuesday (6 March 2018) assured the public that the consultative committee (con-com) formed by President Rodrigo Duterte to propose changes to the 1987 Constitution will not limit the people’s right to free speech.”


ABS-CBN News: “To fight ‘fake news’, gov’t plans to build nationwide information network system

“The government is planning to put up an information satellite network that covers the entire country to combat the spread of ‘fake news,’ a Palace official said Saturday (3 March 2018)…. Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the ‘ambitious’ project can be used to fight disinformation among Filipinos.”

See also:

SunStar Bacolod: “TFK vows help in upholding press freedom


Philippine News Agency (PNA): “All 189 national gov’t agencies now FOI-compliant

“All of the 189 national government agencies (NGAs) are now fully compliant with the Freedom of Information (FOI) law as of March 6, 2018, giving Filipinos an easier time accessing public data from these offices.”



The International Association of Women in Radio & Television (IAWRT): “Speaking up on Censorship in Thailand

“The upcoming 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, in March, is reviewing the progress world governments have made to ensure women’s access to the media and technologies. It also will examine the uise of media as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women…. This feature story tells the story of a broadcast journalist who has struggled for the inclusion of women’s voices in the media amidst military rule in Thailand.”


Prachatai English: “New law criminalises criticism against Constitutional Court

“The Constitutional Court have been granted a legal immunity from criticism, and power to settle conflict between state agencies. Although the new law allows ordinary people to petition to the court directly, the process is still problematic, said a human rights advocacy group…. On 2 February 2018, the royal gazette published the Organic Act on Constitutional Court. Its Article 38 prohibits rude, sarcastic and murderous criticism against orders and verdicts made by the court, with the possible sentence of up to one month in jail and fine up to 50,000 baht.”


The Nation: “Chiang Mai paper drops print run, will now publish exclusively online

“Chiang Mai News, a 27-year-old newspaper, has abandoned its print edition to fully embrace online production.”


International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). “Cross-border collaboration: the antidote to censorship and press intimidation in Thailand

“ICIJ collaborates with journalists all around the world to break stories such as the Paradise Papers, Panama Papers, Evicted and Abandoned, Fatal Extraction and more. This series gives you the inside story of what it’s like being an investigative reporter and explores some of the challenges faced by these journalists.”


The Nation: “‘Kom Chad Luek’ wins journalism award for report on pig farms

“Recognising the impacts, the Isra Amantakul Awards honoured the investigative report (by Kom Chad Luek newspaper) with the top prize in its news category…. The contest has been held by several organisations including the Thai Journalists Association and the Isra Amantakul Foundation.”



Asia Times: “Talkin’ about a reformation in Vietnam

“‘I don’t know why they hate me and my book so much. After all, it’s just a textbook,’ says Pham Doan Trang, a prominent Vietnamese journalist and blogger who has recently gone into hiding to avoid arrest…. In late February, Trang was brought in for questioning over her book and recent articles by public security authorities but later released. Her Hanoi home was subsequently surrounded by plainclothes police, effectively putting her under house arrest. She managed to slip away and is now holed up in a secret location.”

See also:

The Vietnamese: “Phạm Đoan Trang – The Humming Guitar Before Rainstorm Falls
South China Morning Post: “Vietnamese activist interrogated for pro-democracy book in hiding after ‘miracle’ escape



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

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