Weekly Media Roundup (6 – 12 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)


[Philippines] Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): “Court Summons Tech Firms Over Cyber-attacks



[Brunei] Joint letter to AICHR: Urgent concern about the 2013 Syariah Penal Code


[Myanmar] 20 expert organizations urge the gov’t to fully guarantee the internationally protected right to freedom of expression in the Constitution



[Regional] Democracy Consolidation in Asia: ‘Renewing Commitment to Uphold and Promote Democracy Together’


[Thailand] Lack of information, voter confusion marred polls —expert panel says


General news

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): “Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo to receive 2019 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize

“Journalists Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone (Myanmar) will share this year’s UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize, following the recommendation an international jury of media professionals…. Both laureates are serving seven-year prison sentences. At the time of their arrest in Yangon on 12 December 2017, they were working for the Reuters news agency, reporting on alleged human rights violations in Myanmar’s state of Rakhine.”

See also:

TIME: “Reuters Journalists Jailed in Myanmar to Receive U.N. Press Freedom Prize

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “UNESCO prize for Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar


Southeast Asia

Inter Press Service (IPS): “Rise in Cyberlaws Across Southeast Asia Spell Bad News for Human Rights & Democracy

“While Southeast Asia is certainly not alone when it comes to statutory moves to silence critics and quash online dissent in the name of national stability and security – similar censorship is being mulled or rolled out in China, Russia, in some European and African countries, and even the United States – the training and installing of actual ‘cyberpolice’ in places such as Vietnam cannot be allowed to go unchallenged…. Media and citizens are being effectively gagged from having legitimate conversations through this social policing, potentially leading to increasing self-censorship, a stunting of vigorous intellectual debate and weakening of state accountability.”



Asia & Pacific Policy Society: “Indonesia’s elections face a disinformation crisis

“For the first time in Indonesia’s history, the president, vice president, and constituents of the People’s Consultative Assembly will be selected on the same day during its general elections on 17 April…. Like many countries, Indonesia has long grappled with the spread of misinformation and targeted disinformation – so-called ‘fake news’. The issue has proliferated in line with rising rates of digital adoption in the Indo-Pacific, exacerbated by increasingly embittered political rivalries, sectarianism, and rising religious conservatism.”

See also:

Asia Times: “The fight against ‘fake news’ in Indonesia


Indonesia at Melbourne. “Partisan players: television and the elections

“Despite the many violations and problems that occurred during the 2014 campaign, little has changed. Stations that the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) named as ‘enemies of press freedom’ (Metro TV, tvOne, RCTI, MNC TV, Global TV) were even granted 10-year extensions to their broadcasting licences by the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) and Ministry of Communications and Information in 2016…. So, how partisan is the media approaching the 2019 elections? Not much better than five years ago. Let’s take a look at the spread of major television channels and their owners’ political affiliations.”


The Jakarta Post: “Even without the censorship, ‘Hellboy’ reboot still disappointing

“Eventually helmed by Nick Marshall, whose stints include directing a few episodes of popular TV series such as Game of Thrones and Westworld, with a screenplay penned by Andrew Cosby (Eureka, Haunted) and featuring David Harbour (Stranger Things) as the live-action superhero, the film has been announced as an R-rated flick, with Harbour describing it as ‘gory, […] like a horror movie. There’s a lot of blood in it. It’s brutal….’ Well, Harbour didn’t lie. In fact, the film was obviously deemed too brutal that so many action scenes were censored during a press screening in Jakarta up to the point that they became very annoying: one second we were watching Hellboy throw a sharp object at a monster during a bloodied fight, then abruptly the scene was cut off, as the next thing we saw was the monster already dead with gruesomely fatal wounds — and such happened throughout the film…. Some audience members could be heard voicing their disappointment toward the censors.”



Yahoo! News: “Anti-graft group says Malaysia making progress in media freedom

“Anti-graft group, Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), today (12 April 2019) said that media freedom in the country has improved since May last year…. Its executive director, Cynthia Gabriel, said this is proven as more human rights advocates are appearing on mainstream media.”



Frontier Myanmar: “The right to demonstrate? It depends who you are

“Demonstrations have become common in Myanmar since junta rule ended in 2011, but democracy and human rights activists are increasingly concerned that some groups are receiving preferential treatment by the authorities…. Many of the protests in the years since 2011 have involved issues that were suppressed or ignored under junta rule, such as land and labour rights and educational reform, and had the support of those who champion democracy, human rights and freedom of expression…. In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of gatherings held by those on the other side of the political spectrum, such as events organised by hardline Buddhist nationalists to show support for the Tatmadaw.”



Rappler.com: “Rappler asks Supreme Court to end Duterte coverage ban

“Rappler, its reporters, and regional correspondents filed on Thursday, April 11, a petition before the Supreme Court seeking an end to President Rodrigo Duterte’s coverage ban against them…. (STATEMENT: With Rappler ban, Duterte also violates public right to know) Duterte’s ban against Rappler has been in effect for 14 months now, barring Rappler reporters from covering his public events. Rappler’s Malacañang reporter Pia Ranada, who is an accredited member of the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC), remains barred from entering the Palace.”

See also:

STATEMENT: With Rappler ban, Duterte also violates public right to know

ABS-CBN News: “SC says can’t act on Rappler petition until May 3

The World Tonight: “Rappler asks Supreme Court to end Duterte coverage ban | ANC


Bulatlat.com: “Court summons served to 2 tech companies over cyber-attacks vs alternative news

“A court summon has been served today, April 11, to two tech companies facing a civil complaint before a Quezon City court over the cyber-attacks against several alternative news agencies in the Philippines…. ‘We welcome the serving of the summons before the two tech companies that were traced as sources of the cyberattacks against our sites, according to the digital forensic investigation of Sweden-based group Qurium,’ said Rhea Padilla, national coordinator of AlterMidya – People’s Media Network, an umbrella organization of at least 30 alternative news agencies in the Philippines and one of the plaintiffs in the complaint.”


Rappler.com: “Rappler trains citizen journalists ahead of 2019 elections

“Twenty citizen journalists from across the Philippines gathered for a citizen journalism training organized by Rappler’s civic engagement arm, MovePH, from April 5 to 7…. Called Rappler Movers, the participants are campus journalists, youth leaders, advocates, and activists from partner campus publications and school organizations. They were trained by Rappler editors, reporters, and producers on news writing, covering local politics, mobile photography and videography, social media reporting, and fact-checking, among others.”

See also:

Philippine Daily Inquirer. “Youth urged: Fight fake news to help voters choose wisely



New Naratif. “Singapore’s ‘Fake News’ Bill: The FAQ

“The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill (aka ‘fake news’ Bill) was presented to Singapore’s Parliament for its first reading on 1 April 2019. It’s ostensibly meant to address the problem of ‘fake news’ and online misinformation. The Bill is expected to have its second and third reading in May 2019.”

See also:

Academic Freedom in Singapore and the ‘Fake News’ Law

The Interpreter. “Singapore: a fake news law which is actually very bad news


New Naratif. “Out of Bounds: Freedom of Expression in Singapore Revisited

“Singapore’s troubled relationship with freedom of speech and lack of a credible free press is no secret. William Gibson’s infamous treatise on Singapore, ‘Disneyland with the Death Penalty’, labelled the city-state’s newspapers as ‘essentially organs of the state’.[1] Academics have analysed the mechanics of the state’s media interventionism in detail. James Gomez writes that the prevalence of a ‘censorial culture’, particularly ‘self-censorship, [is] how the PAP (People’s Action Party)[2]administrative state has, over the decades, been able to effectively expand its control over the hearts and minds of its citizens’.[3]”



Prachatai English: “Appeal court dismisses referendum charge

“Today (11 April), the Appeal Court has dismissed the charges against four activists and a Prachatai journalist, after they were charged with violating the Public Referendum Act for distributing stickers persuading the people to reject the constitution draft in 2016…. This morning (11 April), the Appeal Court ruled to uphold the Ratchaburi Provincial Court’s ruling to acquit the five defendants in the Ban Pong referendum campaign case.”



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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