WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (5 – 11 March 2016)

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)

The Nation: “Re-elected TJA president warns of less media freedom

Re-elected president of the Thai Journalists Association Wanchai Wongmeechai: “He warned press freedom may be challenged further this year due to unsettled political circumstances…. He called on journalist fellows to unite to push for media reform and liberty.”

See also:
“นายกส.นักข่าวเผยสถานการณ์สื่อปี 58 อึมครึม-ศรัทธาวิชาชีพเสื่อม จี้รีบปฏิรูป (TJA President on the media situation in 2015: Gloomy, eroding public trust in the media, and calls for an urgent media reform)

Re-elected President of Thai Journalists Association Wanchai Wongmeechai called all the media to get their act together and commit to reform the community in order to restore public trust in the media profession.

During the Thai Press Day on 5 March 2016, he described the media situation over the past year as gloomy, frustrating, and fearful. The media have been working under pressure from the government while struggling to survive economically—and from public criticism because of ethical lapses.


Southeast Asia

Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and beyond series. “Media Still Disconnected from the ASEAN Community

“…it is about time that journalists from all media platforms, traditional and digitalized, do their job to inform the public about opportunities and challenges in ways that enhance connectivity among their countries, institutions – and most importantly, the 625 million ASEAN citizens.”


CMO Innovation: “Southeast Asia is fastest growing region for Facebook

“Southeast Asia is the fastest growing region, according to Nadia Tan, head of SMB in Southeast Asia at Facebook…. Two countries out of the top five growing countries in terms of percentage growth in 2015 over 2014 come from Southeast Asia: Vietnam (1st) and Indonesia (3rd).”



Voice of America: “Cambodian PM Accused of Buying Facebook Popularity

“Political observers believe Hun Sen is hoping that he can harness Facebook to gain popularity in preparation for important commune elections in 2017 and national elections the following year.”



Digital News Asia: “Indonesia tightens its censorship grip on the Internet

“Like many of its South-East Asian neighbours, Indonesia is beginning to flex its censorship muscles over Internet content.”

See also:
The Jakarta Post: “Why does Indonesia need a debate on internet freedom?


The Jakarta Post: “Digital TV broadcasting prone to censorship, says expert

“The House of Representatives has outlined a policy to digitize broadcasting in a draft revision of the 2002 Broadcasting Law, which could make it easier for the government to control television programs in the future, according to an expert.”


Washington Blade: “Indonesian lawmakers considering LGBT propaganda bill

“Indonesian lawmakers are considering a bill that would block websites promoting so-called LGBT propaganda…. Advocates contend this bill is the latest in a series of attempts by the Indonesian government to crackdown on them and their work in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.”

See also:
Curve: “Indonesia Sees Rising Discrimination Against LGBT Community
Human Rights Watch. “Indonesia: Don’t Censor LGBT Speech



Malay Mail Online: Aussie news crew arrested in Sarawak barred from leaving country

Two Australian journalists were held by police for allegedly crossing a security cordon in trying to interview Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak. Journalist Linton Besser and camera operator Louis Eroglu had their passports seized despite being released after questioning yesterday.

See also:

The Malaysia Insider: 2 Aussie journalists held in Kuching after asking Najib about ‘corruption scandal’


Malaysiakini. “Salleh: Amendments to Internet laws won’t be tabled now

Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak: “It is indeed very much the intention of the ministry to table the amendments of CMA (Communications and Multimedia Act) 1998 and MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) Act 1998 by March 2016…. However, since the amendments would have direct impact on national and public interest, we want to make sure that the relevant stakeholders and clients are well informed and engaged so that all the concerns and needs pertaining to CMA 1998 and MCMC Act 1998 are addressed.”


Electronic Frontier Foundation: “Malaysian Internet Censorship is Going from Bad to Worse

“…since July 2015, the Malaysian government has blocked at least ten websites, including online news portals and private blogs, for reporting about the scandal surrounding Malaysian Prime Minister Najib tun Razak…”

See also:
Malaysiakini: “The fine line between hate speech and freedom of speech
Malay Mail Online: “The limit to making Malaysians speechless


Malaysiakini: “‘More freedom of expression in other C’wealth nations’

“Malaysia’s Sedition Act is far more restrictive than similar laws in other Commonwealth countries, the American Bar Association Centre for Human Rights claimed in a statement today (7 March 2016).”

See also:
Free Malaysia Today. “US Bar: Sedition Act more restrictive than others



United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: “UNESCO facilitates consultation on Right to Information Law in Myanmar

“…the objective of the consultation was to provide a platform to build a common understanding on the core principles comprising the Right to Information (RTI) Law for Myanmar, and to deliberate on the strengths and weaknesses of the draft prepared by the Ministry of Information.”


The Irrawaddy: “Activist Chooses Jail Over Fine For Peaceful Protest

Prominent rights activist Me Me: “Their charges are unacceptable. There should be no such this charge as our country [undergoes] political reform. [Article 18] blocks our people’s desire to express themselves.”



GMA News Online: “Ex-Palawan gov’s aide convicted in murder of Doc Gerry Ortega

“A Palawan judge has found guilty a suspect in the 2011 killing of broadcaster and environmentalist Gerardo ‘Gerry’ Ortega…. Palawan provincial prosecutor Allen Ross Rodriguez told GMA News Online that Arturo ‘Nonoy’ Regalado was found ‘guilty beyond reasonable doubt’ by the Palawan Regional Trial Court Branch 52.”

See also:
Inquirer.net: “NUJP cheers conviction of accused in Gerry Ortega death
The Gulf Today: “Governor’s aide jailed for killing journalist



Channel News Asia: “Former The Real Singapore editor Ai Takagi to plead guilty to manufacturing articles for profit

“Takagi, 23, and her husband Yang Kaiheng, 27, each face seven charges under the Sedition Act for publishing articles which ‘promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of Singapore’.”

The articles in question targeted foreigners from the Philippines, India and China. They also face an eighth charge under the Penal Code for failing to produce financial statements relating to the blog’s advertising revenue to police investigators.


Channel News Asia: “The Opinion Collaborative Ltd ordered to return revenue to foreign advertiser

The Media Development Authority has ordered website operator The Opinion Collaborative Ltd (TOC Ltd) to return 5,000 SGD in revenue from a foreign company, which it deems violate license conditions as a sociopolitical website.

See also:
The Independent. “MDA’s demand impacts local media, foreign firms: TOC Ltd
Asia Sentinal: “Singapore Threatens Online News Site


The Philippine Star: “Why is Singapore investing millions in its media industry?

An interview with Joachim Ng, Media Development Authority of Singapore director of industry operations, on the government’s massive investment to the country’s film, television, and digital content industry



Thai Visa News: “PM Prayut calls on media to uphold code of ethics

“Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has urged members of the press to always put the nation’s interest first and strictly follow code of ethics.”

See also:
Bangkok Post: “State propaganda isn’t the media’s job

Salon: “Thailand drops case against HK journalist over flak jacket

“The Thai government has dropped a case against a Hong Kong photojournalist who was arrested last year for possessing a bulletproof vest and a helmet, which are considered weapons in Thailand, two court officials said Tuesday (8 March 2016).”


Committee to Protect Journalists: “Thailand aims to hollow out foreign press with new visa restrictions

“…new restrictive guidelines for receiving and renewing foreign media work visas, in our estimation, aim ultimately to instill the same self-censorship practiced among local journalists in the foreign media through the arbitrary threat of visa denials.”


The Nation: “Police hits legal snag in case against ThaiPBS

“Police will wrap up investigation against nine people and two legal bodies who allegedly violated the lese majeste law in connection with the ‘Tob Jote’ programme hosted by well-known celebrity Pinyo Traisuriyathamma on ThaiPBS channel.”


Khaosod English: “Groups to Defy Ban on Debating Draft Charter

“Last Sunday on Feb. 28, Yingcheep Atchanont’s group Prachamati was denied access to use the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre after police and soldiers told the venue’s administrator that the group’s activities may constitute a political gathering of five or more people, which is banned by the military junta…. Two days later on March 1, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam left no room for doubt by announcing the junta considers illegal any public deliberation except for official events held by the Election Commission.”

See also:
Prachatai: “Red shirts detained after campaigning against draft charter


The Irrawaddy: “Amid Repression, Art Scene in Thailand’s Capital Blooms

“…state repression has unleashed a wave of artistic expression, say artists and art lovers, and the Thai capital’s art scene is blooming in response to life under junta rule.”



PEN International: “Vietnam: Blogger faces ongoing harassment

“PEN International condemns the ongoing harassment faced by blogger Tran Minh Nhat and his family ever since his release in August 2015. Initially arrested in August 2011, Tran was sentenced to four years in prison and three years in probationary detention for “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the Criminal Code in connection with his writings for a website linked to the Catholic Church.”


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

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