Weekly Media Roundup (3 – 9 November 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) 


[Philippines] National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): “NUJP launches ‘Sign Against the Sign’” 



[Regional] SEAPA turns 20

[Malaysia] Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ): Media reform on the agenda in Sabah


Burma News International (BNI): “BNI launches a roundtable dialogue on peace process in Myitkyina” 

Myanmar Photographer Association holds worldwide photography contest” 

IFEX. “A letter to Aung San Suu Kyi: Overturn conviction, free Reuters journalists” 

[Philippines] Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): “PH still 5th in CPJ 2018 Global Impunity Index” 


Southeast Asia 

The ASEAN Post. “Southeast Asia: Unsafe for journalists” 

“Being a journalist has never been easy. Many of them work long hours, travel to faraway places and go through plenty of mud just to get a story. Being a journalist in Southeast Asia however, requires an even stronger character. While the rest of the world might lament that the social media fuelled media landscape helps conceive fake news, many journalists in the region are being locked up for merely reporting the truth…. In many parts of Southeast Asia, journalists risk life and liberty while carrying out their duties.” 

See also: 

BusinessWorld: “Southeast Asian journalists flag culture of impunity” 

The Jakarta Post. “Violence against press drops: Report” 



The Phnom Penh Post: “Government ‘wants RFA and VOA reopened’” 

“Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith told the outgoing US ambassador on Tuesday (6 November 2018) that the government intended to reopen Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA) for ‘effective communication and to promote freedom of the press in Cambodia’, local media reported…. But the move has been dismissed as ‘just a show’ if other stations remained closed.” 


The Phnom Penh Post. “Report: Cambodia’s internet freedom slipping” 

“Although it still ranked ‘Partly Free’, internet freedom in Cambodia is slipping, says a report by Freedom House, a US-based democracy, political freedom and human rights watchdog. But the deputy secretary of the Ministry of Justice said the report ‘did not reflect the truth’…. The report found that Cambodia was among 26 countries that had dropped on its scale, while 19 had seen internet freedom improve…. It said Cambodia had intensified a crackdown on online dissidents, with arrests made over political commentary on social media and news sites.” 



TEMPO.CO: “AJI Jakarta Condemns Intimidation Against Detikcom Journalist” 

“Head of Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Jakarta Asnil Bambani Amri condemned the intimidation experienced by a Detikcom journalist while was reporting ‘defend the Tauhid’ rally on Friday, November 2 … The intimidation Asnil refers to is the one experienced by a Detikcom journalist who took pictures of the trash that were spread at the rally area, which was followed by intimidation made against the journalist by rally participants.” 



The Star: “Why respect and protect journalists” 

“This is the first year in a long time that Malaysians have something to be proud of on November 2, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists … And the government co-sponsored a United Nations declaration on this very issue … Nonetheless, both law and the political culture in Malaysia need urgent reform to ensure that Malaysian journalists are able to do their job without fear or favour, and fulfil their fundamental obligation to the public and their right to know.” 



Frontier Myanmar: “Jailed Reuters journalists file appeal to Yangon High Court” 

“Lawyers acting on behalf of two Reuters reporters who were sentenced on September 3 to seven years each in prison under the Official Secrets Act have filed an appeal to Yangon Region High Court, asking for the verdict to be overturned and the journalists acquitted…. The appeal states that Yangon Northern District Court erred on multiple grounds when it convicted Ko Wa Lone, 32, and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, of breaking the colonial-era law. Speaking to Frontier, lawyer U Than Zaw Aung said the regional court had accepted the appeal.” 

See also: 

Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Lawyers For Jailed Reuters Reporters in Myanmar File Appeal” 

Reuters: “Reuters reporters in Myanmar appeal against conviction in state secrets case” 


Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Myanmar Keeps Media Away From Rakhine Conflict Zone” 

“More than a year after violence erupted in Myanmar’s Rakhine state forcing 700,000 Rohingyas to flee, the government of Myanmar still is not providing free access to the region for the media or humanitarian organizations. Yet at the same time, the government is denying all charges that the military engaged in atrocities and saying the international community hasn’t produced convincing evidence…. In June 2018, the Myanmar Press Council asked the military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to allow free media access in the region while they held meeting in Naypidaw.” 


Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Myanmar Drops Charges Against Journalists From Eleven Media” 

“The government of Myanmar’s biggest city Yangon dropped its incitement case against three journalists from Eleven Media Group on Friday (9 November 2018), two weeks after it set them free on bail…. Chief reporter Phyo Wai Win and managing editors Kyaw Zaw Lin and Nari Min were arrested on October 10, after the media outlet published an article with a critical focus on Yangon government spending. Citing officials said their reporting incited public alarm against the government, but the three men stood by the story.” 

See also: 

The Straits Times: “Case dropped against Myanmar journalists facing incitement charges” 


Facebook Newsroom: “An Independent Assessment of the Human Rights Impact of Facebook in Myanmar” 

“We want Facebook to be a place where people can express themselves freely and safely around the world…. As part of that commitment, we commissioned an independent human rights impact assessment on the role of our services in Myanmar and today (5 November 2018) we are publishing the findings. The assessment was completed by BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) – an independent non-profit organization with expertise in human rights practices and policies — in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and our pledge as a member of the Global Network Initiative…. The report concludes that, prior to this year, we weren’t doing enough to help prevent our platform from being used to foment division and incite offline violence. We agree that we can and should do more.” 



Rappler.com: “DOJ indicts Rappler Holdings, Maria Ressa for tax evasion” 

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) for tax evasion and failure to file tax returns, the department said in a statement on Friday, November 9…. The DOJ’s statement did not indicate the subject amount of tax evasion, but it said that when Rappler issued its Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs), ‘it gained close to P162.5 million from the transaction, which it failed to declare in its tax return.'” 

See also: 

ABS-CBN News: “DOJ indicts Rappler for tax evasion” 

CNN: “Top Philippines news site and company chief face tax evasion charges” 

BBC. “Rappler: Philippines to charge critical news site with tax evasion” 

The New York Times: “Philippines Says It Will Charge Veteran Journalist Critical of Duterte” 


INQUIRER.net: “Duterte renews threat to block ABS-CBN franchise renewal” 

“President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday (8 November 2018) renewed his threat to object to the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, which will expire in 2020…. The President made the warning after accusing the television network of not airing his campaign ad that was already paid during the 2016 presidential election.” 


ABS-CBN News: “Danish envoy blasts ‘systematically negative’ PH media in forum on journos’ safety” 

“(Danish Ambassador to the Philippines Jan Top) Christensen further stressed that ‘systematically negative’ media are not able to present what the government is doing, a practice he attributed to poor compliance with journalism standards…. ‘To me, it’s lack of ethical standards, lack of professionalism,’ he said…. Christensen, however, emphasized that the security and safety of journalists should not be overlooked.”  


Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Journalists from Malta, India, the Philippines and the UK honoured at Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 Press Freedom Awards” 

“The Prize for Independence went to veteran journalist Inday Espina-Varona from the Philippines, for her extensive reporting on sensitive issues and her marshaling of the #BabaeAko campaign, the Filipino equivalent of #MeToo that is fighting back against the misogyny of the Duterte regime.” 


International Center for Journalists (ICFJ): “Maria Ressa Accepts the 2018 Knight International Journalism Award” 

“Despite the reporting I’ve done in war zones and conflict areas, I’ve always believed in the goodness of human nature. I think we are basically good. That has never been tested as much as it is today. But it’s one of my fundamental values – a choice to find hope for a better future…. That was why we created Rappler. To our shareholders in Manila, the people who invested, the Filipino shareholders, Marcus Brauchli of North Base Media and the Omidyar Network, thank you for believing in our vision of an innovative, free and independent media…. These times force us to define exactly who we are, what values we live by, and what lines we will not cross… nor allow others to cross.” 



Bloomberg: “Singapore Assails Facebook for Refusal to Remove Post on Premier” 

“Singapore lashed out at Facebook Inc., calling the social media giant unreliable after it declined a request to remove a post that linked Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the city state with 1MDB allegations…. Facebook’s decision to not remove malicious information on Singapore shows the need for legislation, the Ministry of Law said in a statement. The government is protesting a post by the States Times Review, an alternative news website, which connected the country and its leader to probes on the embattled Malaysian state fund.” 

See also: 

The Star Online: “Facebook refuses Singapore request to remove post after critical website blocked” 


The Online Citizen (TOC): “Dr Cherian George calls out the defence of ‘pseudo-freedom’ of the Singapore press” 

“The conversation about press freedom is not a new one – not in the West nor in Singapore. On the one hand, there are media platforms from newspapers to digital newsrooms that are in a constant struggle to maintain press freedom while others are happy to serve as mouthpieces for their ruling government…. In a post on his blog at Air Conditioned Nation, Dr Cherian George, a prominent professor of Media Studies, touched on the debate of press freedom or lack thereof in Singapore.” 


Channel News Asia: “New programme to grow promising start-ups in infocomm media sector launched” 

“A new programme was launched by Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran on Wednesday (Nov 7) to support the growth of promising start-ups in Singapore…. Called SG:D Spark, the programme – by the Infocommunications and Media Development Authority (IMDA) – aims to address the challenges faced by businesses in the infocomm media sector and support them through selected Government grants and access to industry community partners.” 

See also: 

The Straits Times: “New initiative to help infocomm media start-ups” 



The Nation: “Experts express skepticism over free and fair election” 

“As the country counts down towards the next general election, speakers at a panel discussion yesterday (4 November 2018) widely held the opinion that a free and fair national vote without the influence of the ruling junta seems unlikely … But as freedom of expression, association and assembly – the main characteristics of a democratic society – remain blocked, Thailand should have other countries coming to observe the electoral process, he (Sunai Phasuk, Asia Division senior researcher of Human Rights Watch) said.” 


CoinJournal: “Thai Rappers Adds Song on Zcoin’s Blockchain to Fight Censorship” 

“A rap song titled Prathet Ku Mee (Which is My Country), centered on government oppression in Thailand has garnered over 25 million views on YouTube. The viral song, which is topping Thailand’s iTunes download list as at October 27, 2018, was released by Thai rappers who dropped fiery rhymes about government corruptions, censorships, military dictatorship and much more.” 

See also: 

CNN: “How a rap video could become the fault line of Thailand’s long-awaited elections” 


Bangkok Post: “(Editorial) Oppressive to the last” 

“More than four years since the coup, there is still no end in sight to the systematic abuse of the law and intimidation by the police and military of political dissidents and ordinary citizens…. Three unrelated incidents that took place this week — the computer crime indictment of Facebook users, a lese majeste court trial and a Thaksin-Yingluck calendar raid — speak volumes. They stand as a reminder of just how disproportionate, unjust and questionable law enforcement against freedom of expression has been under the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).” 



Viet Nam News. “Social network ethics code complete: Minister” 

“In a bid to create a healthy networking atmosphere in the country, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has completed a code of conduct on social networks for internet service providers and users, said Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng, Minister of Information and Communications…. He said at a meeting on Tuesday (6 November 2018) that the ministry has plans to prevent the spread of negative content on the internet and social media.” 


South China Morning Post: “Vietnam could give tech companies one year to obey new cybersecurity law” 

“Vietnam may give internet companies like Google and Facebook one year to comply with a controversial cybersecurity law, according to a draft decree that outlines how the draconian rule could be implemented…. The cybersecurity bill, which observers say mimic China’s repressive web control tools, is set to come into effect in January despite drawing sharp criticism from the US, the EU and internet freedom advocates.” 


Viet Nam News: “Solutions sought to improve copyright protection” 

“The Hanoian is among the 68 million viewers that visited phimmoi.net – an online platform that provides films for free – in August, up 27 million from the 41 million just five months earlier. A similar platform bilutv.com saw its figures jump from 19 million views in March to 48 million in August…. These are only two among the five websites including hdonline.vn that are allegedly top violators of copyright in Việt Nam, according to Director of the Institute for Policy Studies and Media Development Nguyễn Quang Đồng.” 



All information and materials in this roundup are for general information and use only and do not constitute any advice or recommendation.  

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