WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (6 – 12 January 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)



National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): “NUJP’s rejoinder to the Ortega Family’s statement on the release of the alleged mastermind on the killing of Doc Gerry Ortega


NUJP on CNN Philippines layoffs: Truth and free expression are more than a business




Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ): “OPEN CONTRACTING ‘NOT A NORM’ | Big money for PH projects, no access to all documents


[General news]

IFEX. “Acts of artistic rebellion: 10 stories


General news

Pew Research Center: “Publics Globally Want Unbiased News Coverage, but Are Divided on Whether Their News Media Deliver

“Publics around the world overwhelmingly agree that the news media should be unbiased in their coverage of political issues, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of 38 countries. Yet, when asked how their news media are doing on reporting different political issues fairly, people are far more mixed in their sentiments, with many saying their media do not deliver. And, in many countries, there are sharp political differences in views of the media – with the largest gap among Americans.”



The Phnom Penh Post: “Equitable Cambodia defamation convictions overturned

“Vichet (Chan Vichet, a former employee of the land rights NGO), who did not go to the trial hearing claiming he had not received a summons, was also absent yesterday and said he was unaware of the verdict. Instead, he threatened to file a lawsuit against The Post.”



Malaysiakini: “Appellate court reverses judgment, M’kini to pay gold mine RM350k

“The Court of Appeal in Putrajaya today (11 January 2018) ordered Malaysiakini to pay a sum of RM200,000 in damages to the Raub Australian Gold Mine (RAGM) after it ruled that the High Court in Kuala Lumpur had erred in dismissing the latter’s claim…. The three-member panel, headed by Justice Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, also allowed an injunction on the publication of the three articles and two videos found to be defamatory.”

See also:

Malaysiakini seeks public’s help to pay RM350k damages


The Malaysian Insight: “Court of Appeal quashes ban on Faisal Tehrani’s books

“The Court of Appeal today (10 January 2018) quashed a Home Ministry order banning four books authored by novelist Mohd Faizal Musa, 43, whose pen name is Faisal Tehrani…. A three-man panel comprising Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, Ahmadi Asnawi and Zaleha Yusof found that the order issued on February 12, 2015, was not in accordance with Section 7 (1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.”



Reuters: “Myanmar prosecutor seeks Official Secrets Act charges against two Reuters reporters

“Myanmar prosecutors sought charges on Wednesday (10 January 2018) against two Reuters reporters under the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years, the reporters’ lawyer said.”

See also:

Statement from Stephen J. Adler, President and Editor-in-Chief, Reuters” ; “Explainer: Two Reuters journalists due to make second Myanmar court appearance” ; “Myanmar journalists ask government for details of Reuters reporters’ case
Coconuts Yangon: “Myanmar’s press freedom in freefall
Frontier Myanmar: “Reuters lawyer disputes prosecution case as state secrets charges announced
Myanmar Times: “US presses for the release of two arrested Reuters journalists
The Washington Post: “Myanmar trial set to begin for 2 Reuters journalists” ; “Reuters journalists charged with violating Myanmar law
TIME: “Press Freedom on Trial in Myanmar as Reuters Journalists Face Court
Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “RSF urges Myanmar to free two Reuters reporters
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Myanmar charges two Reuters reporters under Official Secrets Act
ARTICLE 19. “Myanmar: Press freedom lurches backwards as Reuters journalists charged
PEN America: “Myanmar must release detained Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Moe Aung immediately
U.S. Embassy in Burma: “U.S. Embassy Statement on Continued Detention of Reuters Journalists
Huffington Post: “NewsGuild Launches Campaign In Support Of Jailed Reuters Employees


The Irrawaddy. “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Named ‘World’s Biggest Backslider in Press Freedom’: CPJ

“The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) named Myanmar’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to the ‘press oppressor awards’ along with other world leaders including US President Donald Trump, Turkish President Erdogan and Xi Jinping of China…. CPJ said in a statement that in response to President Trump’s announcement via twitter of his planned ‘The Most Dishonest & Corrupt Media Awards of the Year,’ it is recognizing world leaders who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media.”

See also:

Coconuts Yangon: “Aung San Suu Kyi named ‘Biggest Backslider in Press Freedom’


The Irrawaddy: “Netizen Sued After Criticizing Mon State Chief Minister on Facebook

“A netizen was sued by a member of the Mon State ethnic affairs committee on Saturday (6 January 2018) after posting several posts critical of the Mon State chief minister…. U Aung Ko Ko Lwin, a Thaton local who uses the Facebook account Aung Ko Ko Lwin, posted a video clip of Mon State Chief Minister Dr. Aye Zaw’s controversial remark last week urging the residents of Thaton Township to ‘eat only a dish of curry’ at mealtime in order to bring down food prices.”

See also:

Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Burma: Privacy Law Used to Prosecute Critics



Yahoo! Philippines: “Suspect in murder of Philippine environmentalist freed

“A former Philippine official charged with the murder of a prominent environmentalist has been freed after a court voided the case against him, his lawyer said Saturday (6 January 2018)…. Joel Reyes, the ex-governor of the western island of Palawan, was arrested in 2015 for the killing of Gerry Ortega, a prominent campaigner and radio host who frequently accused Reyes of massive corruption…. Demetrio Custodio said his client was released late Friday after the court decision.”

See also:

News5-InterAksyon: “NUJP, Hustisya slam CA order freeing ex-governor Joel Reyes, tagged in Gerry Ortega slay” ; “Palace eyes reversal of CA ruling on Ortega case
INQUIRER.net: “Release of former Palawan governor shocks family of slain broadcaster” ; “Malacañang to seek reversal of CA ruling on Dr. Gerry Ortega case” ; “CA ruling on Ortega case a ‘triple whammy letdown’ for justice — NUPL
GMA News: “GERRY ORTEGA SLAY | CA calls court’s arrest warrant vs. Joel Reyes a grave abuse of discretion” ; “FAMILY ‘IN SHOCK’ | Ex-gov Reyes’ lawyer: Ortega family can still ask court to reopen murder case” ; “Palace commends Ombudsman for seeking Joel Reyes’ rearrest
Manila Bulletin: “Appeals court decision releasing former Palawan governor ‘a travesty’
Rappler.com: “Malacañang to seek reversal of CA decision releasing Joel Reyes
Bulatlat.com: “Alleged mastermind in Ortega slay released
CNN Philippines: “State prosecutors want ex-Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes back in jail” ; “Lawyer warns Roque may face graft charges over Ortega case
philstar.com: “Ombudsman wants Reyes back in prison for graft conviction


Inter Press Service (IPS): “Philippines Most Dangerous Country in Southeast Asia for Journalists

“It’s not just suspected drug users and dealers at risk of targeted killing in the Philippines. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) reported last week that the Philippines is the most dangerous country in Southeast Asia for journalists. Globally, the island nation came sixth on the list of most murderous countries.”


Buhay Media: “[News] TAG statement on the new year 2018 layoffs in CNN Philippines

“We are getting reliable information that earlier today (11 January 2018), our colleagues at CNN Philippines were fired due to ‘rightsizing….’ All day, employees were given their termination notices. Our information pegs the number to at least 60 so far, most of them belonging to News and Current Affairs production including producers, graphic artists, video editors and cameramen. Personnel from Engineering, Technical Operations, Creatives and IT were also sacked.”

See also:

Rappler.com: “Employees laid off from CNN Philippines


Philippine Daily Inquirer. “Filipinos of the Year 2017: Pinoy Ako Blog and other voices vs fake news

“For holding public officials to account for their statements, for proving that the democratic ideal of governance is not mere consent of the governed but informed consent, for insisting on the facts that cast light on the truth, Jover Laurio and other voices against fake news are the Inquirer’s Filipinos of the Year.”


Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Cybercrime top threat to PH banks in 2018, says BSP

“Cybersecurity is one of the biggest threats that the Philippine banking system must confront this year as malicious hackers from here and overseas become more aggressive and attacks become more damaging, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said.”



Channel News Asia: “Select Committee set up to study deliberate online falsehoods; Singapore ‘highly susceptible’ to problem

“Parliament agreed on Wednesday (Jan 10) to establish a Select Committee to look into the problem of deliberate online falsehoods and recommend strategies to deal with them…. Singapore is ‘highly susceptible’ to such falsehoods, said Law Minister K Shanmugam as he moved the motion for the appointment of the committee.”

See also:

TODAY: “Debunking falsehoods safeguards freedom of speech, say MPs



Bangkok Post: “PM tells media to question cardboard dummy

“Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha evaded journalists’ questions on Monday (8 January 2018) in a unique way, bringing out a life-sized cardboard cutout of himself and telling the reporters to quiz it instead of him…. Gen Prayut then turned on his heel and walked off, leaving the mock-up behind, to bemused looks and awkward laughter from the Government House press gaggle.”

See also:

The Nation: “Prayut defers questions to his cutout twin
Bloomberg: “Thai PM Uses Cardboard Cutout to Avoid Reporters’ Questions
Reuters: “Rights group criticizes Thai PM’s cardboard cutout gesture
ThinkProgress: “Thai prime minister leaves cardboard cut-out of himself at press conference and walks away


Bangkok Post: “Activist slams sex probe ruling

“Human rights activist Ticha Na Nakorn Tuesday claimed she had learned that a fact-finding panel looking into a sexual harassment case, in which an unnamed news agency executive was accused of inappropriate conduct with a female subordinate last year, has concluded no such act occurred, only ‘flirting’.”

See also:

The Nation: “Journalist group mulls panel report on sexual harassment claim
Khaosod English: “Media guild accused of dismissing sexual harassment claim


The Nation: “Police pursue case against mines activist

“The Fortify Rights and Community Resource Centre Foundation (CRC) groups have released a statement demanding the authorities drop the complaint against Jamon (Thai PBS citizen journalist Jamon Sonpednarin) and urging the government to ensure freedom of expression and press freedom. The statement noted that, just eight days before Jamon was arrested, the government had announced human rights as part of its national agenda.”


Khaosod English: “Actress charged for briefly posting penis pic

“A celebrity actress was charged with cyber crimes Friday (12 January 2018) for posting a short video that showed her boyfriend’s genitalia, despite her insistence it was accidental…. In a case which for days has consumed media attention and sparked debate over use of law enforcement resources, Apinya ‘Saipan’ Sakuljaroensuk and her boyfriend, actor Nantawooti Boonrapsap, met with police today. The police commander in charge of the investigation said Saipan has the right to contest her charge and prove to the court she had no intention of posting such a picture.”



The Culture Trip: “Is Facebook Vietnam’s Key To Freedom of Expression?

“For the government of Vietnam, Facebook is a mixed blessing: It fosters commercial growth, while also simplifying monitoring mechanisms, since people freely share almost every detail of their lives online. But it also allows people to express opposing views, supplanting traditional media as the primary means of shaping public opinion. In the old days, dissent spread through word of mouth. Today, Facebook lets people organize in ways that are difficult to control. Nobody needs a permit to organize a demonstration online. For authorities, this isn’t acceptable.”



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

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