WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (7 – 13 May 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)

Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR)

Accused Mastermind in 2011 Killing of Journalist Granted Bail
City Mayor’s supporters block journalists



The Cambodia Daily: “CPP Spokesman in Court Over Defamation Suit

“The ruling CPP’s defamation case against prominent political analyst Ou Virak moved forward on Friday (6 May 2016) as the Phnom Penh Municipal Court questioned party spokesman Sok Eysan.”


The Cambodia Daily: “Free English Press Masks an Unfair Media

“Amid a population of more than 15 million, the circulation of Cambodia’s English-language dailies remains in the thousands, while studies have repeatedly shown television to be the dominant source of news.”


Asian Correspondent: “Cambodian govt pressures media to call Hun Sen ‘Lord Prime Minister’

“From August onwards, Cambodian media will either have to use the honorary title when mentioning Prime Minister Hun Sen’s name, or face the consequences.”

See also:
VOA Khmer: “Government Tells Media to Use Honorific Titles
The New York Times. “Call Him Lord Prime Minister: Cambodia Wants PM’s Title Used



Global Indonesian Voices: “Indonesia Will Host World Press Freedom Day Next Year

“Indonesia will host the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) in 2017 as reported on Thursday (5/5) amid the prevailing negative views of the country’s press freedom record.”


The Jakarta Post: “Societies with poor literacy rate prone to censorship

“…many situations (show) that censorship is enabled by a poor literacy rate.”



The Star Online: “Foreign journalist chased away from Najib’s function

“A man claiming to be a broadcast journalist from the United Kingdom was told to leave the old State Assembly building after he tried to ask Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak questions.”


Malaysiakini: “What M’sians should know about freedom of information

“So as can be seen, freedom of information (FOI) is not a foreign concept to Malaysia, in the global society. Internationally, FOI has been endorsed by Malaysia. However, back home, the right to know is tightly controlled and even infringed upon by the federal government.”


Malaysiakini: “Freedom of the press has to be nourished and cherished

“Just as the free air is desirable to keep a people healthy, today a free press is much more important. A free and fearless press can expose individuals and groups when they err.”


New Straits Times Online: “Amendments to Communications and Multimedia Act will not restrict freedom of speech

“The proposed amendments to the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 is not meant to restrict freedom of speech…. Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak said the amendments would cover a wide area, safeguarding the Internet from being abused for pornography, extremism and gambling.”


Malaysiakini: “Lift ban on politicians, Amnesty International tells Sarawak

“Human rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) called on the Sarawak government today to review and amend all laws that restrict the rights to freedom of expression.”



Coconuts Yangon: “CNN inks deal with Myanmar’s SkyNet to launch first 24-hour news channel

“Greg Beitchman, vice president of CNN International’s commercial content sales and partnerships division said the network was ‘confident’ SkyNet could meet an international standard…. ‘Developing a channel will help the country tremendously,’ he said. ‘We think that sharing our standards of journalism and values here in Myanmar will contribute to a model of a political debate which will benefit the country’s politics and also the country’s economics.'”


The Irrawaddy: “Dateline Irrawaddy: ‘The Government Still Discriminates Against Private Media’

“This year marks the 23rd World Press Freedom Day, first celebrated in 1993. Myanmar media outlets also celebrated the day this year. I’ve invited you to discuss the media landscape of Myanmar in 2016.”


Coconuts Yangon: “Why is the ‘penis poet’ Maung Saungkha still in jail?

“Maung Saungkha, the author of an edgy poem about having a tattoo of a certain somebody on a certain bodypart, is mysteriously still in jail despite widespread pardons and amnesties in April and the conclusion of other cases involving the same exact charges.”



InterAksyon.com: “Ex-Coron mayor Mario Reyes, accused in Gerry Ortega murder, gets bail

“One of two brothers accused of masterminding the 2011 murder of Palawan journalist and good governance advocate Gerardo ‘Gerry’ Ortega was granted bail by the court trying the case.”


Reuters: “Philippine court halts rare TV attack ad showing kids against Duterte

“A court in the Philippines on Friday (6 May 2016) ordered a major television network to stop airing an attack advertisement that featured small children questioning the morals of presidential frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte, three days before an election.”


The Philippine Star. “Rody: FOI to be an executive order

“As part of his commitment to transparency, winning presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday (11 May 2016) he would push for the immediate approval of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act as soon as he is proclaimed…. Duterte said he would allow the public – through the mass media – greater access to government documents to ensure that every transaction is aboveboard.”

See also:
Rappler.com: “Duterte bent on pushing FOI, even if it takes an EO
Manila Bulletin: “PNoy admin embracing core substance of FOI bill – Palace



Hong Kong Free Press. “Interview: Singapore blogger Amos Yee on press freedom, feminism, and protest

Amos Yee, a 17-year-old vlogger from Singapore: “The only way you can get opposition views is on the internet, which is why it was so depressing in the 70s to 90s when there wasn’t the internet, basically all the news was from the government. So right now… especially in Singapore, we have to be reliant on the internet. Hopefully, all the older generation, they die and everybody uses the internet. Because that’s the only way we can get balance in the news.”



The Nation: “Govt urged to respect opinions on charter draft

“The authorities should support public participation in the upcoming referendum, said Niran Pitakwatchara, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Such participation included those receiving, exporting, and exchanging information, he said.”

See also:
Editorial: Suffocating public freedom will influence how society reacts


The Star Online: “Fear spreads as Thai junta jails online critics

“…a fresh wave of fear was sparked last week after soldiers stormed the homes of eight activists who police say were paid to run Facebook pages that criticised and mocked the junta…. The group was jailed and now faces trial in a military court for sedition and violating Thailand’s computer crime act, two laws that carry tough sentences.”

See also:
Anadolu Agency: “Thai junta slammed for latest lese-majeste charge
Bangkok Post: “Facebook pressured following arrests” ; “Six of Facebook 8 released on bail” ; “Two remaining ‘Facebook 8’ denied bail
The Nation: “Public figures ‘must tolerate criticism’” ; “Editorial: Life under the rule-breakers’ rules
Khaosod English: “Facebook Denies Giving User Data to Thai Junta
Asia Sentinel: “Thai Facebook Users Under Threat


Khaosod English: “Anti-Junta Activist’s Mother to be Released on Bail

“The Military Court granted temporary bail today to Patnaree Charnkij, mother of a prominent anti-junta activist. Patnaree is charged with defaming the monarchy.”

See also:
Bangkok Post: “Court frees Ja New’s mum amid human rights pressure” ; “US envoy stands by criticism of arrest of activist’s mother” ; “NCPO insists Patnaree case has grounds, deplores ‘campaign’” ; “Regime defends lese majeste arrest
The Nation: “Prayut defends lese majeste prosecution of Sirawith’s mum


Bangkok Post: “Regime in for tough grilling by UN panel

“A Thai delegation is expected to face a flurry of questions Wednesday (11 May 2016) on the country’s human rights violations under military rule at a UN rights forum in Geneva, which will be broadcast live to the kingdom.”

See also:
UN, HRW take aim at military’s rights record
The Nation. “Editorial: Thailand’s rights record is indefensible
Prachatai English. “Other countries don’t have lèse majesté law since they’re not civilized: Justice Minister
Asian Correspondent: “Those who don’t understand ‘necessity’ of lèse majesté law lack ‘civilization’, ‘sensitivity’ – Thai Justice Minister


Timor Leste

Global Voices: “Timor Leste’s Prime Minister Isn’t Backing Down on His Defamation Lawsuit Against Two Journalists

“On April 22, 2016, several global media groups wrote a letter to Timor Leste Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araujo, urging him to withdraw the defamation case he filed against two local journalists. A week later, Araujo responded, defending his decision to pursue a case against the reporters.”



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

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