WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (4 – 10 November 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)



SEAPA: Two-month jail time for journalists—a harsh punishment



Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR)
Radio Broadcaster Shot Dead in Surigao del Sur


National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)
NUJP’s statement on verbal threats against journalist



Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR): “CCHR’s #NeverForget Exhibition of Impunity Cases to commemmorate the International Day to End Impunity


Southeast Asia

Rappler.com. “Press freedom: What challenges do ASEAN journalists face?

“Censorship by state authorities, harassment and intimidation by armed forces, and repressive press laws continue to stifle free expression. Here’s a look at the press freedom situation in each of the 10 ASEAN member-states.”


ABS-CBN News: “Int’l women journalists urge ASEAN to uphold press freedom

“We are calling on the ASEAN heads of state to uphold media freedom and stop the attacks on our colleagues. These are not random acts of violence. They are more often than not political persecution…”

See also:

Bulatlat.com: “Global confab asks ASEAN to stop attacks vs women journalists
The International Association of Women in Radio & Television (IAWRT): “Safety Handbook for Women Journalists Launched


Rappler.com: “ASEAN civil society groups to highlight human rights issues in region

“‘ASEAN is not a safe place for human rights activists and defenders, journalists, and people who have been progressive and modernizing ideas,’ Jelen Paclarin, chairperson of the ACSC (ASEAN Civil Society Conference) steering committee, said as she read the network’s statement…The 2016 Bersih 5 protest rally in Malaysia clamped down on several human rights activists, Rohingya Muslims are subjected to systematic attacks in Myanmar that have forced more than 600,000 to the borders, LGBTIQ activists in Indonesia have been subject to a wave of attacks, and a government crackdown has suppressed opposition and a free press in Cambodia.”

See also:

The Phnom Penh Post: “NGOs see ‘opportunity’ for pressure at summit


Volexity. “OceanLotus Blossoms: Mass Digital Surveillance and Attacks Targeting ASEAN, Asian Nations, the Media, Human Rights Groups, and Civil Society

“In May 2017, Volexity identified and started tracking a very sophisticated and extremely widespread mass digital surveillance and attack campaign targeting several Asian nations, the ASEAN organization, and hundreds of individuals and organizations tied to media, human rights and civil society causes. These attacks are being conducted through numerous strategically compromised websites and have occurred over several high-profile ASEAN summits. Volexity has tied this attack campaign to an advanced persistent threat (APT) group first identified as OceanLotus by SkyEye Labs in 2015. OceanLotus, also known as APT32, is believed to be a Vietnam-based APT group that has become increasingly sophisticated in its attack tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). Volexity works closely with several human rights and civil society organizations. A few of these organizations have specifically been targeted by OceanLotus since early 2015. As a result, Volexity has been able to directly observe and investigate various attack campaigns. This report is based on a very targeted attack that Volexity observed and the research that followed.”

See also:

Reuters. “Vietnam’s neighbors, ASEAN, targeted by hackers: report



PEN America: “Why Free Expression Advocates Must Watch Cambodia Closely

“Treason. Incitement. Tax fraud. These are some of the charges that the government of Cambodia has been levying against NGOs, newspapers, radio stations, and opposition politicians. Since July of 2017, under the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen—a former Khmer Rouge commander who has led Cambodia for more than 30 years—the government has been using a raft of legal charges to suppress, shut down, and silence dissenting voices within the country.”



Human Rights Watch: “Indonesian Instagrammer Faces Prison Time for Meme

“Although a Jakarta court dismissed the corruption charges against (speaker of Indonesia’s House of Representatives and chairman of the powerful Golkar party Setya) Novanto last month, he has continued to respond to these memes by reporting a total of 68 Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter account holders for criminal defamation, including (Dyann Kemala) Arrizzqi. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of four years in prison. Police have yet to file charges against other individuals who Novanto has reported.”

See also:

The Jakarta Post: “Memes of Setya ‘pure insult, defamation’


Jakarta Globe: “Gov’t Reverses Plan to Block WhatsApp, Though Popular Third-Party ‘GIF’ Images No Longer Accessible

“The Ministry of Communication and Information reversed its plan to block messaging service WhatsApp on Wednesday (08/11) and has instead blocked access to third-party services that provide ‘Graphics Interchange Format,’ or GIF, images…. The ministry emphasized that it will continue its crackdown against obscene content, previously sending three letters to WhatsApp headquarters requesting they remove pornographic GIFs from use in the country after viral messages spread over the weekend regarding obscene content on the messaging service.”

See also:

Reuters: “After WhatsApp threat, Indonesia steps up Internet obscenity purge



Malay Mail Online: “Tabling of Sarawak Multimedia Bill in accordance with state laws, says minister

“The Sarawak Multimedia Authority Bill 2017, which was passed in the Sarawak State Assembly today does not contravene any federal laws regulating telecommunication and multimedia, Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said today (8 November 2017)…. The state Minister of International Trade and e-Commerce said that the Bill was tabled in accordance with the state laws provided for under Article 95(b) of the Federal Constitution.”


Free Malaysia Today. “Professor: Only Parliament can limit freedom of expression

“Freedom of expression, one of the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Federal Constitution, can only be limited by laws passed in Parliament, says law academic Azmi Sharom.”



Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Myanmar Court Jails Foreign Journalists For Drone Flight Near Parliament

“A court in Myanmar sentenced two journalists reporting for Turkish state media, their interpreter and their driver, to two months in prison on Friday (10 November 2017) for violating a law regulating the use of aircraft after they used a drone to film near parliament in the country’s capital Naypyidaw.”

See also:

The Irrawaddy: “Journalists Sentenced Under Unexpected Charge for Flying Drone Over Parliament
Reuters: “Myanmar jails foreign journalists with Turkish broadcaster for two months
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Journalists jailed for two months in Myanmar over drone use


International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). “IFJ Blog: Myanmar Government Uses Laws, Threats to Strangle Reporting

“After decades of intimidation, draconian prison sentences, persecution and being driven into exile by the country’s former military regime, Myanmar’s journalists are again being targeted by the government and its security forces for their reporting…. The country’s journalists feel that any optimism for a free press generated by Aung San Suu Kyi’s and her party, the National League for Democracy, massive election victory in November, 2015 has all but evaporated.”


The Diplomat: “Social Media Exhibits Its Disruptive Power in Myanmar

“Myanmar — a nation navigating a transition away from military rule toward democracy — offers a perfect example of what happens when the widespread, and rapid, adoption of social media comes before the necessary pre-conditions of development are in place to harness it for good.”


Mizzima: “Pitch for moderate censorship for Myanmar films

“Burmese filmmakers, supported by those from Southeast Asian countries, on Saturday (4 November 2017) pitched for ‘classification, rather than censorship’ in the days ahead…. Joining a debate on film censorship in Myanmar and rest of Southeast Asia on the sidelines of the Memory! Festival 2017, they said that when the 1996 Motion Picture Law is replaced by a new law now in the drafting process, it should have ‘very moderate censorship’ to control extreme cases of religious incitement, hate speech and obscenity.”



Rappler.com. “FACT CHECK: Can PCOO reclassify Rappler as ‘Social Media’ under Uson?

“Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson has requested her boss, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar, to reclassify Rappler from a bona fide member of the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) to ‘Social Media’ under her office.”

See also:

Malacañang Press Corps slams Mocha Uson’s bid to ‘reclassify’ Rappler
philstar.com. “Not that kind of secretary: Uson asks Andanar to produce press corps papers
ABS-CBN News. “Uson fires back at Palace reporters: Why meddle with bloggers?
Coconuts Manila: “Mocha Uson slammed for trying to have Rappler removed from Malacañang Press Corps


INQUIRER.net: “Pro-Duterte bloggers slam Roque for defending mainstream media

“Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has earned the ire of pro-Duterte bloggers on the day he took his oath as President Rodrigo Duterte’s official mouthpiece…. RJ Nieto, owner of Facebook Page ‘Thinking Pinoy’ and Sass Rogando Sasot slammed Roque after he defended the mainstream media and said he would explain to the rabid Duterte supporters or the so-called Duterte Diehard Supporters (DDS) the role of critical journalists.”

See also:

GMA News. “Uson to Roque: Tell mainstream media to respect netizens’ views
philstar.com: “Roque to talk to Mocha about the role of media
Rappler.com: “Roque to explain value of journalists to Mocha Uson, ‘DDS’
CNN Philippines: “Roque wants to explain value of journalists to Mocha Uson
Manila Bulletin: “Roque stands by his opinion on value of media freedom


Democracy Now! “‘Stop the Killings’: Photojournalist Raffy Lerma on Duterte’s Deadly War on Drugs in the Philippines

“As President Donald Trump is set to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte when he visits the Philippines, watch our full interview with Raffy Lerma, an award-winning photojournalist who has documented Duterte’s deadly “war on drugs.” Since Duterte was elected in 2016, more than 7,000 people have been extrajudicially killed by police or vigilantes. Lerma discusses his work and the situation in the Philippines.”


philstar.com: “What is the Presidential Task Force on Media Security?

“Despite the task force’s mandate to ensure security for media workers, the document that created the body is silent on threats received by journalists online…. Some journalists who have written critical pieces about Duterte have been subjected to online harassment and threats, prompting media groups to ask the government to protect freedom of expression.”



Singapore Legal Advice. “Does the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression Exist in Singapore: Myth or Reality?

“The right to freedom of speech and expression is certainly not a myth – it does exist in Singapore. In reality however, the scope of this right is limited, in the protection of the interests of Singapore’s society as a whole.”



Bangkok Post: “Online media ‘need regulation in reform push’

“The government should focus on regulating emerging non-traditional media instead of controlling traditional media, experts told a Bangkok seminar on press freedom on Saturday (4 November 2017).”



ABC: “Daughter of jailed Vietnamese activist calls on US first lady to push for release

“The 11-year-old daughter of a political prisoner in Vietnam known as ‘Mother Mushroom’ has appealed to US first lady Melania Trump to help free her mother…. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh has become one of Vietnam’s most famous and stringent critics, blogging about environmental issues and deaths in police custody.”


VNExpress International: “Bill demanding Google, Facebook install domestic servers raises eyebrows in Vietnam

“Vietnamese authorities are constantly looking at ways to monitor what is being published on social media…. A draft law on internet security that would require foreign companies such as Google and Facebook to have offices and servers in Vietnam has been met with strong opposition from experts and an influential local business advocacy group.”



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

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