WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (31 December 2016 – 6 January 2017)

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)

Thai Journalists Association (TJA)
2016 was a year of government’s interference and the media’s depression

“2016 was a year of ‘government’s interference and the media’s depression,’ the Thai Journalists Association recalled the media situation in Thailand for the past year…. In a brief report launched on Friday December 30, the Thai Journalists Association (TJA) said the media situation in Thailand continued to be obscure. Among the constraints were the special power and the orders of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) as well as the Prime Minister’s negative attitude towards the media’s work.”



The Indian Express: “Cambodia to arrest three behind photoshopped image of king

“Cambodian police on Monday (2 January 2017) said they planned to arrest three suspects, including one believed to be in Thailand, for being behind an offensive photoshopped image of the country’s king that placed him in a gay porn scene. The image, which appeared on some Facebook accounts in both Cambodia and Thailand this week, is a rare public insult aimed at King Norodom Sihamoni, a monarch who is largely respected and deemed above the country’s political fray.”



The Jakarta Post: “Indonesia’s AJI urges police not to hinder journalists reporting Ahok trial

“Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) chairman Suwarjono expressed disapproval of the police action that hindered journalists in reporting the blasphemy trial implicating Jakarta Governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama on Tuesday (3 January 2017) despite the judge’s permit.”


Jakarta Globe: “Questioning the Effectiveness, Impartiality of Internet Censorship

“The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has blocked access to 11 websites for propagating hoaxes and fake news or for containing hate speech based on ethnicity, religion, race and group affiliation…. The sites are voa-islam.com, nahimunkar.com, kiblat.net, bisyarah.com, dakwahtangerang.com, islampos.com, suaranews.com, izzamedia.com, gensyiah.com, muqawamah.com and abuzubair.net.”


The Jakarta Post: “Police charge ‘Jokowi Undercover’ author with defamation

“The National Police have added more charges to the dossier of Bambang Tri Mulyono, the author of a book titled ‘Jokowi Undercover’, who is now under investigation over alleged defamation and hate speech against President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo.”

See also:
Obscure author charged with defaming President Jokowi


The Jakarta Post. “Mainstream media responsible for rise of fake news: Press Council

“The rising circulation of fake news as an alternative for readers to obtain information is partly due to the questionable impartiality of the country’s mainstream media, according to Press Council chairman Yosep Adi Prasetyo.”

See also:
Public warned over news with suspicious content



Free Malaysia Today: “Adnan’s case will determine if Najib can sue for defamation

“Five defamation suits filed by Najib Razak against his adversaries will determine next year whether the prime minister, as a public official, has the legal capacity to obtain legal remedy…. However, this can only be determined after the Federal Court hears the appeal by Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob, whose suit against Utusan Melayu (M) Berhad was struck out as the action was filed in his official capacity.”



Radio Free Asia: “Police Arrest Third Suspect in Death of Myanmar Reporter

“Myanmar authorities have arrested three suspects in the murder of a local reporter who was badly beaten and left to die on the side of a highway in the town of Monywa in Sagaing region last December, a local police officer said…. Soe Moe Tun, the Monywa-based reporter for Myanmar’s Eleven Media Group who had been reporting on illegal logging and wood smuggling, the mining industry, and karaoke lounges serving as brothels in the northwestern part of the country, was found dead on Dec. 13.”

See also:
The Nation: “Myanmar police arrest three over reporter murder


The Nation: “Myanmar media execs granted bail in defamation trial

“Two Myanmar media executives were granted bail on Friday (6 January 2017) in a high-profile defamation case that has become a lightning rod for fears over teetering press freedoms under the new democratic government.”

See also:
Radio Free Asia: “Detained Eleven Media CEO, Top Editor Released on Bail in Myanmar


VOA News. “Activists: Defamation Cases Surge in Myanmar

“When the National League for Democracy took office in Myanmar in April, many activists, journalists and civil society groups hoped the change to a democratic government would mark a turning point for freedom of expression, following decades of repressive army rule…. Some 10 months later, however, the government of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has made little progress in strengthening freedom of expression, according to activists, who warn it has failed to prevent a sharp rise in the number of arrests for online defamation.”

See also
Frontier Myanmar: “Protect the press



BusinessWorld: “Task Force establishing if Que case a media-related killing

“The ongoing investigation on the murder of Larry Que — a businessman who ran for mayor of Virac town in the May 2016 elections and started publishing a weekly newspaper two weeks before his death — is initially determining whether the incident is a media-related killing.”

See also:
Philippine News Agency: “Aguirre orders probe on killing of Catanduanes columnist
Catanduanes Tribune: “Uktoy under surveillance prior to incident? Still no leads in Que murder
Asia Sentinel: “Journalist Deaths Down Globally


The Manila Times: “Palace Communications office tapped to enforce FOI

“Malacañang has assigned the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) to oversee implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill in the executive branch.”

See also:
Manila Bulletin: “PCO to lead Duterte govt’s Freedom of Information push
Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Andanar to oversee FOI in President’s office
GMA News: “Andanar tasked to oversee executive’s compliance with Duterte’s FOI order
The Philippine Star: “House drafts substitute, consolidated FOI bill



Khaosod English: “Court denies bail to activist suspect in lese majeste case

“A Khon Kaen appeals court Friday (6 January 2017) dismissed a request to free activist Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa on bail.”

See also:
Bangkok Post: “Pai Daodin loses bail appeal
The Nation: “Supreme Court upholds bail revocation of student activist


Bangkok Post: “Army plans to hire ‘cyber warrior’ civilians

“The army plans to recruit civilians to work as ‘cyber warriors’ at its cyber crime security centre, army commander-in-chief Chalermchai Sittisat said Monday (2 January 2017).”

See also:
International Business Times: “Thai army to recruit civilian ‘cyber warriors’ following Anonymous’ onslaught on government sites
Khaosod English: “Military hands over 3 more alleged hackers


Bangkok Post. “Editorial: NBTC must abide by law

“In the 31 months since the military takeover, and amid progress both real and asserted, one of the biggest setbacks has been to freedom of speech and information. Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered a clampdown on the media on the day of his May 22, 2014 coup. Since then, no relaxation of censorship has occurred, and many other steps have been ordered. Expressing opinions in public can prove dangerous, and laws such as the recent Computer Crime Act amendment continue to restrict or inhibit both personal and media freedoms.”




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

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