Weekly Media Roundup (4 – 10 August 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) 


[Myanmar] အသံ – Athan: The number of cases under the Telecommunications Law rises to 43 after the amendment



[Philippines] Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR). “The Sotto TakeDown ‘Request’: A Press Freedom Issue” 



CALL FOR STORY PROPOSALS: 2018 SEAPA Journalism Fellowship


General news 

The Economist: “Open Future | The global slump in press freedom” 

“In a region (Asia) with 4.5bn people, only two countries, Taiwan and Japan, are considered to have a free press. Afghanistan, Nigeria and Ukraine all score higher than any South-East Asian country, and journalists face regular beatings, arrests and censorship across the continent.” 


Index on Censorship: “Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship” 

“Winners of the Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship receive 12 months of capacity building, coaching and strategic support. Through the fellowships, Index seeks to maximise the impact and sustainability of voices at the forefront of pushing back censorship worldwide…. The nomination period for the 2019 Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship is now open.” 


Southeast Asia 

Manila Bulletin: “VP calls for action vs fake news” 

“As she constantly finds herself a target of malicious stories and ‘fake news,’ Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday expressed support to Singapore’s call for action against misinformation and urged the administration to ‘take concrete steps’ to address this problem…. Robredo expressed support for Singapore’s call for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states to ‘follow through on the bloc’s collective commitment to fight misinformation in the region.'” 

See also: 

INQUIRER.net. “Robredo asks Duterte admin: Combat spread of ‘fake news’, misinformation” 


Nikkei Asian Review: “Twitter puts foot down on fake followers in Southeast Asia” 

“Twitter has finally taken action to suspend thousands of fake accounts in Southeast Asia, a problem that has ballooned over the last four months during which Cambodia, Malaysia and Pakistan held national elections.” 



DISCOVER SOCIETY: “Defending democracy digitally The Cambodia Daily reinvents itself as an off-shore multimedia on-line news channel” 

“Despite the limited daily updates following last year’s closure, The Daily’s online readership has actually increased. Over the last few months it has picked up momentum as more and more articles appear. Perhaps the most astonishing part of this story is that the online publishing started without any hired staff or actual publisher.” 



The Jakarta Post: “Sports ministry apologizes for incident in Jambi” 

“The Youth and Sports Ministry has issued an apology for an incident in Jambi where a female journalist was hit on the chest by a security official while covering the Asian Games torch ceremony … Kompas TV journalist Suci Annisa said she had suffered excruciating pain on her chest after being hit.” 


ABC News: “Australian woman detained in Bali over Papua link” 

“An Australian graduate student whose honeymoon plans in Indonesia included a cultural festival in the insecure Papua region says she’s being deported after officials accused her of being a journalist…. Belinda Lopez told The Associated Press she was detained on arrival in Bali on Friday (3 August 2018) and has been informed she’ll be deported on a 10 p.m. flight Saturday.” 

See also: 

Human Rights Watch (HRW): “Indonesia’s Papua Media Blacklist” 



Malaysiakini: “Denied! Judge rules gag order violates freedom of speech” 

“High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali has dismissed former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s application for a gag order on the media and public with regard to discussing the merits of his case.” 

See also: 

New Straits Times: “(Updated) High Court dismisses Najib’s gag order application” 


Global Voices: “As Malaysia’s new government marks 100 days in office, is free speech still under threat?” 

“As it approaches its 100 days in office, has Malaysia’s new government fulfilled its promises to protect freedom of expression? … Since the election, Malaysians have seen some improvements. Independent news websites such as the Sarawak Report and Medium have been unblocked. The travel ban on political cartoonist and activist Zunar, a fierce critic of former PM Najib Razak, has been lifted. But other outspoken voices are still under pressure.” 

See also: 

ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR): “ASEAN parliamentarians urge Malaysia to repeal Sedition Act and other repressive laws” 


Free Malaysia Today: “Removal of activists’ portraits is censorship, says ex-Bar president” 

“A former Malaysian Bar president has joined the chorus of people criticising a minister and the Penang government for removing two portraits featuring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists in an exhibition to display patriotism…. Ragunath Kesavan said the response by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa, and by extension the Pakatan Harapan government, was unacceptable.” 

See also: 

The Straits Times: “Malaysia’s religious affairs minister Mujahid Rawa orders removal of LGBT activists’ portraits” 

PinkNews: “Malaysia government ‘demonising’ LGBT people by censoring art exhibit” 

Malay Mail. “Stop censoring us: LGBT people are part of the Malaysian picture — 47 civil society organisations” 



Reuters. “Special Report: Dangerous News – How two young reporters shook Myanmar” 

“With their arrest, the two reporters were thrust into the murky confluence of military and civilian rule in this ethnically fractured nation of some 50 million people. To dignitaries in Western capitals, from Pope Francis to former U.S. President Bill Clinton, their incarceration would become a test of press freedom in Myanmar, and how far the country has traveled toward a more open society. On July 9, a judge charged the two under the Official Secrets Act, a law that carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.” 

See also: 

Reuters reporters ‘revealing the truth’, former teacher tells Myanmar court” ; “Wife of jailed Reuters journalist in Myanmar gives birth” 

Frontier Myanmar: “The anguish of a loving husband and father” 


The Irrawaddy: “In 1988, A Brief Renaissance for Myanmar’s Journalists” 

“On the 30th anniversary of the pro-democracy uprising of 1988, The Irrawaddy revisits this 2013 article revealing a silver lining of the demonstrations, despite the brutal crackdown which was to follow: a brief return of press freedom to a country that had been muzzled by a literary censorship system for 26 years.” 



La Croix International: “Brave Filipinos fight for justice when regular media flee” 

“Threats of arrest and harassment by authorities have not deterred independent media practitioners from what they described as ‘hardship assignments.'” 

See also: 

Manila Bulletin: “Poe wants independent agency to ensure protection of journalists” 

GMA News: “Poe wants AFP to explain red-tagging of media orgs” 

Philippine News Agency: “Egco bares PTFoMS accomplishments, earns praises from Poe” 


Rappler.com: “Martires limits media access to Ombudsman cases” 

“Ombudsman Samuel Martires will impose new secrecy measures on cases filed and pending with the Office of the Ombudsman, in ways that would severely limit media reporting and lessen transparency in the office … The Office of the Ombudsman will not let the media know about complaints being filed. Currently, complainants tell media ahead of their filing, and reporters are allowed at the lobby of the Office of the Ombudsman to interview complainants.” 


INQUIRER.net: “CA affirms Celdran’s conviction in ‘Damaso’ act” 

“Echoing the Manila Regional Trial Court’s decision that ‘the right to free speech does not guarantee an unbridled license to say whatever one may wish,’ the Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of activist tour guide Carlos Celdran for offending religious feelings under Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code…. Celdran, a reproductive health advocate, was meted with the penalty of two months and 21 days to one year, one month and 11 days of imprisonment for shouting inside Manila Cathedral in 2010 in a call for the Church to stop meddling with government affairs while holding a ‘Damaso’ sign referring to ‘Padre Damaso,’ the antagonist priest in Rizal’s ‘Noli Me Tangere.'” 


Rappler.com: “Robredo eyes filing criminal case vs blogger Drew Olivar” 

“Vice President Leni Robredo is considering filing a criminal case against blogger Drew Olivar for claiming she had slept around when she went to South Africa in 2017…. ‘We have lawyers seriously studying the possibility,’ said Robredo’s legal adviser Barry Gutierrez in a text message…. According to Gutierrez, Robredo had long been consulting with several lawyers whether or not she should file a case against bloggers who have been spreading lies about her, her late husband Jesse Robredo, and their 3 daughters online.” 

See also: 

ABS-CBN News: “Robredo eyes raps vs. blogger in viral ‘pepedederalismo’ chant” 

CNN Philippines: “Robredo camp eyes filing charges vs. blogger in viral federalism video” 


INQUIRER.net: “Drilon: Proposed national ID law has ‘enough safeguards’ to protect privacy” 

“Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday allayed fears that the proposed national identification (ID) system would compromise Filipinos’ rights to privacy, noting that pertinent provisions of the Data Privacy Act will still apply…. President Duterte is expected to sign into law this Monday (6 August 2018) the bill establishing a single and streamlined identification system in the country.” 

See also: 

Nat’l ID system could be in full swing in three to five years — PSA” ; “National ID not mandatory, but nonholders face woes – PSA exec” 

Philippine Daily Inquirer. “Duterte: Data privacy secure with national ID” 

The Philippine Star. “Duterte: National ID to cut red tape, fight crime” 


INQUIRER.net: “Philippine Information Agency chief calls on Mocha to take a leave of absence” 

“The director general of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) has called on Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson to take a leave of absence amid controversies surrounding a viral lewd video on federalism…. Harold Clavite, chief of the country’s primary development communications arm, made the call amid Uson’s most recent blunder on the Duterte administration’s campaign for a shift to a federal form of government.” 

See also: 

Andanar respects right of Mocha Uson, PIA chief to freedom of expression” 



Reuters: “Singapore cyber attack has hallmarks of state-linked group, government says” 

“Singapore’s worst cyber attack in its history, in which personal information of about 1.5 million people including the Prime Minister was stolen, has the hallmarks of a state-linked group, the government’s communications minister said on Monday (6 August 2018)…. In late June, hackers started stealing personal details and prescription records of patients who visited Singapore’s outpatient clinics over the previous three years, authorities announced on July 20.” 



Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Vietnamese Blogger, Rights Activist Detained by Police” 

“A well-known Vietnamese blogger and human rights advocate was taken into custody on Thursday by local police, who later returned to search her home where they confiscated her laptop computer, camera, books, and other personal items, her husband said…. Huynh Thuc Vy, a co-founder of the advocacy group Vietnamese Women for Human Rights, was seized by police in Dak Lak province’s Buon Ho town after refusing previous summons to come in to their offices for questioning, Vy’s husband Le Khanh Duy told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.” 


VNExpress International: “Soaring 3G, 4G use to boost mobile ads, commerce” 

“Widespread adoption of 3G and 4G networks in Vietnam presents a lucrative growth opportunity for mobile advertising and commerce…. Vietnam had more than 123.9 million mobile subscribers active on 2G, 3G and 4G networks as of June this year, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications.” 



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