Weekly Media Roundup (8 – 14 December 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) 


[Laos] Six years on, this question still hounds the state: Where is Sombath?


[Thailand] Lifting political ban not enough, While curtailment of free expression remains



[Regional] IFEX. “Asia-Pacific in November: Hong Kong freedom under siege, APEC, Rappler indictment, and same-sex marriage referendum loss in Taiwan” 


[Myanmar] Burma News International (BNI): “Thousands Protest Sentencing of Kachin Youth Leaders in Myitkyina” 

See also: 

Thousands protest jailing of Myanmar anti-war activists” 


[Philippines] Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ): “FOI, Kaya pa (still can)? Is there a future
for FOI under DU30 administration?” 


Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR): “Journalists, Including Rappler’s Ressa Named Time ‘Person of the Year’” 

See also: 

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP): “NUJP hails selection of targeted journalists as TIME Person of the Year” 



[Philippines] FAKE NEWS, REAL WOMEN: Disinformation gone macho

See also:

BOYS WILL BE BOYS: Locker room talk and online harassment


General news 

TIME. “Person of the year 2018: The Guardians and the war on truth” 

“Whom do you trust? It may seem a wonder that, in a world riven by tribal tensions, national leaders seek division where sturdy bridges already stand, and confusion where clarity can mean the difference between life and death. The world may not be getting worse, only more confused, but in time that distinction can vanish. There is urgent work ahead in shaping a communications system guided not by software but by the judgment of citizens, and the social contract implied in the First Amendment: facts matter.” 

See also: 

Rappler.com: “WHEN JOURNALISTS BECOME THE STORY | Attacks against media in 2018” 


Southeast Asia 

The ASEAN Post: “Social media’s journey to Southeast Asia” 

“According to We Are Social and Hootsuite’s 2018 report, all countries in Southeast Asia have significant numbers when it comes to social media penetration. Most of these countries have also reported a significant increase in the number of social media users.” 



Khmer Times: “News fixer charged over RT sex doc” 

“Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday (13 December 2018) charged a news fixer with incitement to discriminate over his involvement in the production of a sex trafficking documentary dismissed by the government as fake news…. Rath Rott Mony, the news fixer, fled the country last week after the Russia Today documentary ‘My Mother Sold Me’, which he helped produce, went viral and angered the government, which dismissed it as fake news after sources featured in it retracted their statements on how young Cambodian girls were sold for sex to feed their impoverished families.” 

See also: 

Adhoc lawyer seeks bail for RT news fixer” ; “Police look to question wife of RT news fixer” 


Khmer Times: “Ministry says government did not shut down The Cambodia Daily” 

“The Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday (11 December 2018) denied an accusation by The Cambodia Daily that the government closed its operations and bank account due to its criticism of the government…. A ministry statement said that many media outlets are operating freely as long as they comply with the country’s laws, especially paying tax.” 


Khmer Times: “Rights defender to receive Franco-German prize” 

“Human rights defender Chak Sopheap has been chosen by Germany and France to receive this year’s Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law…. Ms Sopheap is the executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights and is among one of 15 human rights defenders from around the world to have their work recognised.” 

See also: 

The Cambodia Daily: “Truth under fire” 

Radio Free Asia (RFA). “Cambodia Now ‘More Free’ Than Under Khmer Rouge: Hun Sen” 



Free Malaysia Today (FMT): “Censorship board to snip LGBT elements, scenes from films, dramas” 

“Any elements or scenes deemed to be promoting inappropriate elements such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) will be not be approved for public viewing, the Dewan Rakyat was told today (10 December 2018)…. Deputy Home Minister Mohd Azis Jamman said this was based on the guidelines set by the Film Censorship Board (LPF), which falls under the ministry’s purview.” 

See also: 

Malay Mail: “Censorship board to cut LGBT content from films, deputy home minister says” 


The Star: “Responsible reporting important for stability” 

“Mainstream media is still more responsible with its news reporting as it rejects fake news, says Pahang Regent Tengku Mahkota Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah…. He said actual media practitioners had ethics and wisdom in educating the masses through their reports compared to social media sources, which could have element of abuse.” 



Reuters TV: “One year into the arrest of the two Reuters journalists” 

“The prosecution of Wa Lone and Kyaw She Oo have become a landmark press freedom case in Myanmar, in a test of the nation’s transition to democratic governance.” 

See also: 

The Irrawaddy: “Activists Demand Release of Two Reuters Reporters on Anniversary of Arrests” 

Al Jazeera: “In Aung San Suu Kyi’s Myanmar, free press hopes wither” 

BBC. “Myanmar journalists: Families urge Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo release” 

Human Rights Watch (HRW): “A Dark Anniversary for Press Freedom in Myanmar” 


Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Myanmar President Claims Improvement in Human Rights, But Critics Disagree” 

“Myanmar President Win Myint said on Monday (10 December 2018) that the country’s human rights situation has improved, but critics disagreed, pointing to violence targeting Rohingya Muslims, the harsh treatment of ethnic minorities, an about-face on press freedom, and crackdowns on civic groups.” 


Frontier Myanmar: “(Opinion) Welcome to Maungdaw” 

“A media trip to northern Rakhine State becomes an exercise in government obstruction and disorganisation.” 


Myanmar Times: “Govt considering new cyber law, minister says” 

“A Cyberlaw will be drafted to take action against those who insult the country and people and commit crimes over any communications network, said Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications U Thar Oo…. ‘We are speaking with local and foreign experts in law and technology about the shape of a law to take action against those who would destabilise the state, make personal attacks, use foul language, or commit fraud on communications networks,’ he told the Amyotha Hluttaw (Upper House) on Wednesday (12 December 2018).” 


The Guardian: “Facebook among firms named on Myanmar human rights ‘dirty list’” 

“Facebook is among a number of companies from the US, UK, France, Switzerland and China named on a ‘dirty list’ of corporations accused of involvement in human rights and environmental violations in Myanmar, or of doing business with the country’s military, which is accused of genocide.” 


The Irrawaddy: “Myanmar Free Speech Activist Wins Dutch Human Rights Award” 

“Myanmar free speech activist Maung Saung Kha has won the Human Rights Tulip award from the Netherlands, becoming the first person bestowed with the honor in the country…. The Human Rights Tulip is an annual prize awarded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to a person or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to defending human rights worldwide. This year, Dutch embassies across the world bestowed country-specific Tulip awards to local human rights defenders.” 



Rappler.com: “Ahead of warrant, Maria Ressa posts bail at Court of Tax Appeals” 

“Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) president Maria Ressa on Tuesday, December 11, posted bail at the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) over 4 charges of alleged violation of the Tax Code…. Ressa posted P204,000 (about $4,000) worth of bail Tuesday morning over the 4 charges. She posted bail ahead of the issuance of warrants of arrest.” 

See also: 

Rappler Holdings, Ressa ask tax court to void case” ; “What do you do when you hear you have an arrest warrant (and you’ve done nothing wrong)?” 

Bulatlat.com: “Journalists vow to continue telling the truth amid gov’t harassment” 

Philippine Daily Inquirer: “EDITORIAL | Recognizing ‘The Guardians’” 


SunStar Cebu: “Prosecutor junks Nalzaro’s plea for inhibition” 

“The Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office will proceed with the investigation on the libel charge filed by Miguel Osmeña, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s son, against Pablito ‘Bobby’ Nalzaro…. This came after Cebu City Prosecutor Liceria Lofranco-Rabillas denied Nalzaro’s plea for the prosecutors office to inhibit from the case.” 

See also: 

Cebu Daily News: “Nalzaro to bring his libel case to RSP, DOJ’s attention” 



The Straits Times: “TOC editor Terry Xu and alleged contributor to site charged with criminal defamation” 

“The Online Citizen’s (TOC) editor Xu Yuanchen, better known as Terry Xu, and one of its alleged contributors were taken to court on Thursday (Dec 13) over an article published on the socio-political website…. Xu, 36, and Daniel Augustin De Costa, 35, were each charged with one count of criminal defamation…. De Costa is also accused of an offence under the Computer Misuse Act.” 

See also: 

Channel NewsAsia: “The Online Citizen editor charged with criminal defamation, along with author of article” 

TODAY: “TOC editor Terry Xu, article author charged with criminal defamation over corruption allegation” 

Coconuts Singapore: “The Online Citizen editor Terry Xu charged for defaming Cabinet of Singapore members” 

Global Voices: “Singapore government threatens critics and independent media with defamation claims” 

Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Singapore: Drop Defamation Charges Against Editor” 


Mothership: “Blogger Leong Sze Hian says he will defend himself against defamation suit by PM Lee” 

“Financial adviser and blogger Leong Sze Hian will be defending himself in the defamation suit brought against him by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong…. He revealed this on Wednesday, Dec. 12 when he told The Online Citizen briefly about his upcoming defence strategy.” 



Bangkok Post: “Ban on political activities lifted” 

“The National Council for Peace and Order on Tuesday lifted its prohibition on political gatherings and support for political activities, but this will have no affect on the prosecution of earlier violators of the ban…. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as NCPO chief, issued the order as the MP election law earlier published in the Royal Gazette took effect.” 

See also: 

Parties wary despite lift of political ban” 

The Nation: “Political activity ban lifted ahead of 2019 election” ; “Lifting of political ban ‘partial’” 

Khaosod English: “Junta lifts its ban on politics” 

BBC: “Thailand election date set and campaign ban lifted” 


Prachatai English: “Thai military detain the wife and son of a Thai exiled activist” 

“According to a relative, Mrs. Jinda Santiparapop, the Thai military has arrested Mrs. Laddawan Chewasut(age 62) and Mr. Suthawat Chewasut(age 31),  the wife and son of Mr. Chucheap Chewasut or ‘Uncle Sanamluang’, the underground radio broadcaster who currently is living in exile…. The arrest took place in Talingshun-Bangkok. It is believed that the Thai Military perpetrators, later on the same day, brought both victims to their workplace in an office near Siri Raj Hospital.” 


Bangkok Post: “Centre urges public to have poll say” 

“The Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS) and its allies have set up a centre to monitor the Feb 24 general election under a campaign to educate the public about the poll and encourage them to take a greater role in pushing for public policies.” 



Reuters: “Vietnam seeks arrest of activist over Facebook posts” 

“Police in Vietnam have issued an arrest warrant for an activist accused of trying to overthrow the state by posting pro-democracy materials on Facebook…. Nguyen Van Trang, a member of the banned group Brotherhood for Democracy, posted articles, photos and videos on his Facebook account that distorted the policies of the Communist Party and state, and incited people to protest, the Ministry of Public Security said on its website.” 


Deutsche Welle (DW): “Facebook accused of silencing critical Vietnamese bloggers” 

“Facebook is being used to silence bloggers critical of Vietnam’s government, according to Reporters Without Borders. The campaigners said there were 26 imprisoned media workers in the Southeast Asian nation.” 


Financial Times: “Google and Facebook push back on Vietnam’s sweeping cyber law” 

“Google, Facebook and other technology groups are urging Vietnam to scrap a requirement that they store data in-country just days before a sweeping cyber security law comes into force, as Hanoi joins a global crackdown on the power of US internet giants…. The companies, speaking through the Asia Internet Coalition, their regional lobby group, said the localisation requirement would stifle investment, harm economic growth and hurt foreign and Vietnamese companies with an online presence.” 



All information and materials in this roundup are for general information and use only and do not constitute any advice or recommendation. 

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