Weekly Media Roundup (30 March – 5 April 2019)

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)

Alerts:

[Myanmar] Burma News International (BNI): “DMG journalists’ lives threatened in anonymous letter

 

[Singapore] Anti-’fake news’ bill ‘frighteningly broad’, ‘dangerous’ as gov’t sets itself up as arbiter of truth and falsehood

 

[Thailand] Television host, activist face defamation charges over election coverage and comments

 

Reports:

[Myanmar] Burma News International (BNI): “AA invites media to battlefield

 

[Philippines] Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ): “Law firm not registered, some biz interests not disclosed, debtor gets deal to import rice” ; “Duterte, Sara, Paolo mark big spikes in wealth, cash, while in public office” ; “Dutertes mix up data on 23 business  interests, posts of 16 relatives in gov’t

 

Campaigns:

[Indonesia] Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI, Alliance of Independent Journalists): “Community Declare Committee For Journalists Safety

 

[Philippines] VIDEO: ‘We are the free press and we hold the line’

 

General news

TIME: “Read About 10 Journalists Now Facing the ‘Most Urgent’ Threats to Press Freedom Around the World

“Amid growing concern about the number of journalists imprisoned or killed on the job around the world, TIME partnered with a dozen leading new organizations last month to launch the One Free Press Coalition, aimed at standing up for journalists who are threatened for pursuing the truth … The list will be updated on the first of every month.”

 

Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism: “How innovation and storytelling are helping in the fight against disinformation

“Digital news outlets in the Global South are innovating out of necessity as they pursue their journalistic mission and values, while acquiring new skills and finding competitive advantages. Their efforts are leading to meaningful connections with their audiences and, in some cases, new revenue streams. Each outlet is on a war footing to address widespread disinformation that will surround each country’s imminent election…. These are findings from the latest report from the Reuters Institute’s Journalism Innovation Project, ‘Lessons in Innovation: How International News Organisations Combat Disinformation through Mission-Driven Journalism’. Lead author Julie Posetti, Senior Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute, spent a month ‘embedded’ in the newsrooms of Rappler, the Daily Maverick and The Quint, three digital-born, mobile-first news organisations in the Philippines, South Africa and India, respectively. The report is based on Posetti’s observations as a participant, along with over 40 long-form interviews with editors, journalists and digital leaders.”

 

Brunei

NDTV: “‘Brunei Becoming Southeast Asia’s Saudi Arabia’: Outcry Over Sharia Laws

“Brunei’s imposition of harsh sharia laws, including death by stoning for gay sex and adultery, is a bid by the country’s ruler to boost support among conservatives and highlights a steady drift away from the West, observers say…. The tough punishments, which also include amputation of a hand and foot for theft, will come into force Wednesday (3 April 2019) when a new penal code is fully implemented after years of delays.”

See also:

ASEAN SOGIE Caucus: “Statement of ASEAN Civil Society Organizations on the Full Enforcement of Sharia Law in Brunei Darussalam

 

Malaysia

New Straits Times: “Najib’s trial should not be turned into a circus

“Any move to decide on whether the upcoming trial of Datuk Seri Najib Razak should be broadcast live, should be left for the courts to decide…. This as the matter comes under the jurisdiction of the courts…. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said she understood the eagerness of the people wanting to see the trial of the former prime minister, but cautioned that it should not be turned into a circus.”

See also:

Malay Mail: “Let courts decide, but DPM not keen on making circus of Najib’s trial” ; “Najib backs ‘live’ broadcast of trial, says public have right to know the truth

 

Malay Mail: “Over 50 NGOs demand release of CEP report

“Fifty-four civil society groups called today (30 March 2019) for the declassification of the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) report recommending to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government measures to improve governance and the economy…. The non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also wanted the Official Secrets Act 1972 to be reviewed and to have its purview limited to national security, defence, international relations, and ‘other narrowly defined criteria’.”

 

New Straits Times: “No need for lese-majeste laws in Malaysia, says Muhyiddin

“Malaysia does not need lese-majeste laws similar to those of Thailand to protect the sanctity of the royal institution against insults and attacks…. Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the existing laws were adequate…. The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has not discussed the need for such a law like in Thailand, he told the Dewan Rakyat today (1 April 2019).”

See also:

Malay Mail: “Putrajaya says ‘no’ to lese majeste laws

Free Malaysia Today (FMT): “No plans to introduce lese-majeste laws but Sedition Act under review, says Muhyiddin

 

The Star Online: “Govt to monitor anti-vaxxer movement, to combat fake news online

“The Health Ministry is working closely with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and non-government groups to combat misinformation on vaccination…. This would include taking action against any medical practitioner who uses social media to spread inaccurate information on vaccination, said Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.”

 

Myanmar

The Irrawaddy: “Myanmar Media Outlets Threatened over Rakhine Coverage

“The Irrawaddy and several other independent media outlets in Myanmar have received anonymous threats since late last week over their coverage of the ongoing fighting between the Arakan Army (AA) and government troops…. Clashes between the AA, which seeks autonomy for Arakanese people in Rakhine State, and the Myanmar Army (or Tatmadaw) intensified early this year following the rebels’ attacks on police outposts in northern Rakhine State on Jan. 4. The government announced last week that there had been 103 incidents of fighting between the Tatmadaw and the AA since January, resulting in the deaths of 12 civilians. The Myanmar Army admitted there had been casualties on both sides.”

 

The Irrawaddy: “Military Officer to Sue Prominent Movie Director for Defamation

“A military officer from the Yangon Region Command has filed a lawsuit against movie director U Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, a police officer at Insein Police Station has confirmed to The Irrawaddy … The Yangon Region Command could not be reached for a comment. On Sunday (31 March 2019), U Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi was travelling to Naypyitaw to attend a rally in support of amending the 2008 Constitution.”

 

Gizmodo: “Facebook’s Efforts ‘Not Nearly Sufficient’ in Genocide-Torn Myanmar, UN Investigator Says

“It’s been nearly two years since the bloody peak of a social media-fueled genocide in Southeast Asia, but Facebook is still not doing enough to prevent the ongoing promotion of violence and hate in Myanmar on its social network, according to a member of the United Nations team that found the Silicon Valley company for years failed to stop its platform from being used to incite genocide in the Asian nation…. ‘I think there has been meaningful and significant change from Facebook, but it’s not nearly sufficient,’ Christopher Sidoti, the UN investigator, said by phone last week.”

 

Philippines

Rappler.com: “Maria Ressa posts P126,000 bail for new case

“Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa on Monday, April 1, posted yet another bail of P126,000 (US$2,397) before a Pasig City court in connection with an anti-dummy case that had been split into two…. Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 158 Judge Rowena Modesto San Pedro found probable cause to charge Ressa and 6 other directors of Rappler Incorporated for alleged violation of the Securities Regulation Code of the Philippines following the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to Rappler’s foreign investor Omidyar Network.”

See also:

ABS-CBN News. “‘For the 8th time’: Rappler chief Maria Ressa posts bail anew

philstar.com: “Rappler chief Ressa pleads not guilty to tax cases

 

INQUIRER.net: “Sharers of Jim Paredes sex video liable under cybercrime law – DICT

“Following the video scandal involving singer Jim Paredes, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Wednesday  (3 April 2019) warned that those who shared the said video would be held liable.”

 

INQUIRER.net: “Gretchen Fullido appeals dismissal of libel rap vs. colleagues

“The camp of television news anchor Gretchen Fullido has filed motion for reconsideration after  the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the libel case against her colleagues in ABS-CBN…. In a statement on Thursday (4 April 2019), Lawyer Eldrige Marvin Aceron, Fullido’s legal counsel, said they filed the motion to keep the cases alive.”

 

Singapore

New Straits Times: “Singapore proposes tough new measures to fight ‘fake news’

“Singapore proposed tough new measures to combat ‘fake news’ Monday (1 April 2019) including a maximum 10-year jail term, saying they were necessary to protect national security but sparking concerns of new curbs on free speech…. The tightly-controlled city-state has long faced criticism for restricting free expression and clamping down on political rights, and is ranked 151 out 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom index.”

See also:

The Straits Times: “New law to make sites accountable for fake news

Channel NewsAsia (CNA): “Singapore Government rejects Human Rights Watch’s criticisms of new law targeting online falsehoods

Business Insider Malaysia: “Facebook could be fined if it doesn’t suffocate freedom of speech in Singapore

Asia Times: “Singapore sets fearsome ‘fake news’ standard

Freedom From The Press: “How would the Online Falsehoods Act affect journalism? This test case could give an answer.

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Singapore ‘fake news’ legislation endangers press freedom

Asia Internet Coalition (AIC): “AIC statement on the Singapore Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill (1 April 2019)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “RSF explains why Singapore’s anti-fake news bill is terrible

 

Yahoo! News: “Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga lyrics listed as ‘offensive’ in Parliament handout

“Pop stars Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga appear to have been listed as examples of artists whose songs contained “offensive lyrics” in a Parliament handout issued on Monday (1 April)…. Workers’ Party MP Chen Show Mao shared on Facebook a picture of the handout, which appears to be part of the Ministerial Statement that Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam delivered in Parliament earlier in the day. The document showed lyrics of the aforementioned artists as well as those by rock band Nine Inch Nails and singer-songwriter Hozier.”

 

Mumbrella Asia: “‘We are much more than TV boxes’ says Channel NewsAsia as it rebrands to CNA

“Mediacorp-owned news organisation Channel NewsAsia has rebranded itself as CNA…. The name change reflects a larger transformation underway at the organisation which will see the launch of radio station CNA Talk, the start of a citizen-journalism initiative called Tell CNA and an increasing reliance on artificial intelligence.”

 

Thailand

Prachatai English: “ECT files defamation charge against Voice TV host

“The Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) has filed a defamation charge against Voice TV host Sirote Klampaiboon and activist Nuttaa Mahattana, most likely for Voice TV’s broadcast on the election day.”

See also:

The Nation: “EC accuses activist, critic of libel

 

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR): “Having car set on fire two times, being beaten up six times, the steep price paid by Ekachai Hongkangwan

“Ekachai Hongkangwan is a freelance writer and political activist. His activism has become prominent in the aftermath of the 2014 coup, around 2016. He has been campaigning on different issues: demanding an investigation on the failure to report assets (including 25 luxurious wristwatches) by Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, aka ‘The Rolex General’: searching for a plaque commemorating Thailand’s 1932 revolution which has been mysteriously replaced by a new one that promotes the royalist notion of “Nation, Religion, and King,” aka ‘Mood Na Sai’: and scrutinizing of Maj Gen Dr Rianthong Nanna, an ultra-royalist activist. His latest involvement is the signature campaign to impeach the Election Commission. To be an active citizen under the yoke of the military junta, he has to pay a steep price.”

 

Bangkok Post: “FFP chief on sedition rap

“Future Forward Party (FFP) leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit is facing a charge of sedition in connection with his alleged involvement in helping anti-coup demonstrators escape arrest in 2015…. The complaint against him was lodged by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)…. A summons issued by the police, was sent to Mr Thanatorn’s residence, ordering him to report to Pathumwan police station at 10am on Saturday (6 April 2019).” 

See also:

The New York Times: “Thai Junta Files Sedition Complaint Against New Party Leader” ; “Thai Army Chief Sends Warning to Critics of the Monarchy

 

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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