WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (30 December 2017 – 5 January 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)



National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). “Statement: NUJP calls out Facebook for taking down anti-Marcos posts



IFEX. “Defiant cartoonists, detained foreign journalists, and ‘recalcitrant’ activists: December in Asia-Pacific


Southeast Asia

Nikkei Asian Review: “Freedom of speech takes a drubbing in Southeast Asia

“Southeast Asia has, in recent decades, enjoyed increasing democratization along with economic growth. But there has been significant backsliding of late on free speech rights in the region.”


The Motley Fool: “8 Interesting Facts About South East Asia’s Internet Economy

“Google and Temasek recently released a report on the growth of the internet economy in South East Asia. They expect the economy to grow to $200 billion by 2025, driven by a user base growth of 220 million people to 480 million. These are impressive numbers and exciting times for any Internet business in the region. Many companies can capitalise on the greater penetration and growth of the Internet in the region.”

See also:

Google and Temasek: “e-Conomy SEAP Spotlight 2017 | Unprecedented growth for Southeast Asia’s $50B internet economy
Payments Source: “PayThink Southeast Asia has challenges, but it’s worth it for fintech investors



The Phnom Penh Post. “2017 in review: Cambodia’s tumultuous year

“The government’s scorched earth tactics were not reserved just for the Cambodia National Rescue Party. Local and international NGOs and media organisations also felt the brunt of the CPP’s efforts to quell dissent ahead of the 2018 national elections.”


The Phnom Penh Post: “Activists launch ‘White Sunday’ movement for release of ‘political prisoners’

“A trio of former CNRP members and a civil society representative yesterday (31 December 2017) launched a so-called White Sunday campaign calling for the release of political prisoners, drawing a strong rebuke from an Interior Ministry official who said participation in the campaign could invite further legal action…. In three separate posts, the participants showed themselves dressed in white calling for the release of 24 ‘political prisoners’, including former CNRP leader Kem Sokha; ex-Khmer National United Party leader Nhek Bun Chhay; two jailed RFA reporters; land activist Tep Vanny; and other CNRP members previously convicted of ‘insurrection’.”



ARAB NEWS: “Indonesia introduces new Internet censorship system

“Indonesia’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ministry is set to implement a new $14 million Internet censorship system from Wednesday (3 January 2018). The new system will automatically block pornography and other content deemed to be unsuitable by the government, following years of manual monitoring which has failed to adequately police the abundance of illicit online content.”

See also:

The Jakarta Post: “Censorship machine ready to block porn in Indonesia
Coconuts Jakarta: “IT Ministry’s IDR194 billion automatic internet censorship system to launch on Jan 1


South China Morning Post. “Indonesian TV censorship: cartoons cut, athletes blurred as conservative Islam asserts itself and broadcasters fear sanctions

“Overzealous censorship could be a result of broadcasters trying to conform with shifting cultural norms in the Muslim-majority country, which has in recent years been drifting in a more conservative direction.”



Malaysiakini. “MCA: How can Dr M promise freedom when he restricted it?

“MCA religious harmony bureau chief Ti Lian Ker branded Dr Mahathir Mohamad a hypocrite, after the former prime minister apologised for his past mistakes and pledged his commitment to freedom of speech.”

See also:

Salleh: Dr M’s promise for free speech unbelievable
The Malaysian Insight: “State of free speech worse under Najib, says PKR
Malay Mail Online: “BN leaders slam ‘hypocrite’ Dr M over freedom of speech promise” ; “Freedom of speech? You banned three papers in 1987, PSM rep reminds Dr M” ; “”PPBM will return freedom of speech if we come to power, Dr M promises


Malaysiakini: “Dr M accuses Utusan of erroneous report on ‘mufti kafir’, pens letter

“Dr Mahathir Mohamad has accused Utusan Malaysia of publishing an erroneous report, which quoted him as branding state religious leaders (mufti) as ‘kafir’ or infidels…. In an open letter, the Pakatan Harapan chairperson claimed that the Umno-owned daily was aware that he did not make such a remark.”


The Malaysian Insight: “BN’s new portal just propaganda, say analysts

“BARISAN Nasional’s move to launch theRakyat, its official portal for the 14th general election, shows that the ruling coalition has realised the limits of its traditional mainstream media, media practitioners and analysts say.”



The Irrawaddy: “Dateline | ‘2017 Was a Year of Bad Luck’

“Concerning the media, they have provided great support for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her party throughout their struggle. The media did play an important part. But then, the media started to face the old things again when the new government took power. The forces that used to stand behind the NLD government now have to confront it for its treatment of the media. This is quite shockingly an unexpected turning point of 2017.”

See also:

NHK: “Myanmar criticized over human rights issue
The Telegraph. Opinion: “No freedom to speak


Reuters: “Friends of arrested Reuters reporter in Myanmar pour out hearts on social media

“Ever since Reuters Myanmar reporter Wa Lone was arrested on Dec. 12 on suspicion of violating the Official Secrets Act, friends and former colleagues have poured out their hearts and expressed hopes for his release on social media.”


The Conversation. “Unliked: How Facebook is playing a part in the Rohingya genocide

“And now Facebook, originally a connection platform for university students, conjoins one in four people. But today, in Myanmar, Facebook is helping fuel a genocide against the Rohingya people…. Based on our research in Myanmar and in Cuba, we argue that internet usage in Myanmar is dangerous. Unbridled connection to Facebook creates what we call a ‘virtual coercive,’ a digital space that bolsters coercion. We suggest that Cuba’s internet model may provide lessons to manage social media amid political chaos.”



Bulatlat.com: “Yearender 2107 | Press freedom in constant peril

“The year 2017 was characterized by continued media killings, heightened online threats and harassment against journalists, censorship, and systematic campaign to deceive the public.”


Tonyo Cruz: “Facebook censors post on Duterte-Marcos dirty deals

“At around 8:30 tonight, 2 Jan. 2018, I received an interesting notice from Facebook that it took down one of my post today, and restricted access to my account. The reason given was that I allegedly violated ‘Community Standards’.”

See also:

philstar.com: “Poe wants inquiry into social media sites’ guidelines
GMA News: “Poe wants Senate probe on social media standards after anti-Marcos posts taken down
Manila Bulletin: “Poe wants removal of social media users’ posts investigated


philstar.com. “Gatchalian: Social media being used to target officials

“After drawing flak for cursing online bashers, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian lamented that social media is now being used against public officials…. In an interview with ANC’s Headstart, the neophyte senator reiterated that he will not issue an apology to ‘paid individuals’ designed to ‘bring out the worst’ in him.”

See also:

Calling critics ‘trolls,’ Gatchalian says he reached ‘breaking point’ in Twitter firestorm
ABS-CBN News: “Gatchalian blasts trolls, won’t apologize for Twitter profanities
INQUIRER.net: “Gatchalian snaps on Twitter; hurls expletives at online bashers
GMA News: “Senator Gatchalian replies ‘gago, ulol’ to trapo remark on social media
Rappler.com: “Netizens slam Sherwin Gatchalian over ‘Ulol, Gago’ tweets



Channel News Asia: “Film on Palestine-Israeli conflict not to be shown in public in Singapore

“A documentary that was supposed to be screened at the Singapore Palestine Film Festival on Thursday (Jan 4) has been banned from public screening by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)…. Radiance of Resistance received a ‘Not Allowed for All Ratings’ (NAR) classification for its ‘skewed narrative’. The rating means the film is not for exhibition or distribution in Singapore.”

See also:

Coconuts Singapore: “Singapore bans documentary about the Palestine-Israeli conflict from screening here
The Straits Times: “IMDA bans film on Palestine-Israeli conflict, citing its ‘skewed narrative’
TODAY: “Film screening on Palestinian girls living through conflict cancelled due to ‘inflammatory’ narrative


TODAY: “‘Eyes in the sky’, surveillance vehicle deployed at New Year countdown

“Police will roll out new gizmos to beef up its surveillance capabilities for this year’s New Year countdown, including drones that can blare sirens or warning messages…. Revellers waiting for the fireworks at Marina Bay on Sunday (Dec 31) night may spot the drone, equipped with red and blue blinkers, a search light, and an audio system that allows the police to communicate with crowds in the event of an emergency, such as giving them instructions on dispersal.”



Bangkok Post: “PM coy on political future, cultivates media

“He (Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha) also spent a long time Thursday (4 January 2018) defending his regime’s media policies, insisting he has never limited media freedom and has no privileges which allow the government to be spared from scrutiny…. But he insisted again his core belief that the press and public must unite to maintain the country’s stability and security and that it was important for all to proceed with reforms and move the country forward.”

See also:

EDITORIAL: “Stop press intimidation


Bangkok Post: “Reform panel agrees to ease digital TV debt

“To relieve their financial problems and better help digital TV businesses, the committee has agreed to draft proposals “that are in line with the framework set out by the government and the NBTC [National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission],” committee chairman and permanent secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office Jirachai Moonthongroi said.”


Bangkok Post: “Yala court jails blind woman for 18 months for royal insult

“The Yala Provincial Court on Thursday jailed a blind woman for 18 months for lese majeste, her lawyer and a court official said…. Nurhayati Masoh, 23, was found guilty after she posted on her Facebook account an article by Giles Ungpakorn, a Thai-British academic and vocal opponent of the monarchy who fled Thailand after he was charged with lese majeste in 2009.”

See also:

The Nation: “Blind woman gets lese majeste jail sentence
Khaosod English: “Blind woman to serve 1.5 years in prison for defaming monarchy
Prachatai English: “Blind woman gets 1.5 years for lèse majesté
Asian Correspondent: “Blind Thai woman jailed a year for insulting monarch


Bangkok Post: “Election censorship to apply to social media

“Election candidates will be required to register for vote-canvassing on electronic and social media, according to the current draft of the organic law governing the election of MPs…. The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) committee vetting the bill has finished the first round of deliberation for all 178 sections of the law, said spokesman Taweesak Suthakavatin.”



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

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