WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (8 – 14 October 2016)

Here are some of the press freedom- and free expression-related events and issues you might have missed last week:


Southeast Asia

Deutsche Welle. “Southeast Asia: An action plan to improve the media environment

“Experts from nine Southeast Asian nations have identified key challenges facing media in their region. They propose three concrete areas of action for civil society, governments and the media.”

See also:
VOA Khmer: “Southeast Asian Rights Situation ‘Going Downhill Fast’


Bangkok Post: “Journalists press case for freedom from fear

“Even though the constitutions of Southeast Asian countries guarantee freedom of speech and the right of the media to do their job without fear of harm, the reality for Asean journalists is that their safety is increasingly at risk.”


The Diplomat: “Southeast Asia Still Has Weak Information Security Against Cyber Threats

“With the huge increase in internet use, Southeast Asia is more prone to attacks from outside sources. Cyber attacks use various methods to alter computer code, logic, or data, resulting in a data breach or system failure. A telling 2015 report showed that among the Southeast Asian countries, Hong Kong was the most affected by cyber attacks, followed by Taiwan and Thailand.”


Financial Times: “Southeast Asia aims to shed shackles on tech start-ups

“At the latest count, only a handful of technology companies in Southeast Asia were valued at more than $1bn — in contrast to, say, China, which has well over 30. Like everything else in the region, scale is hard to come by, despite a population of more than 625m in the 10 Asean countries.”

See also:
Forbes: “Is Censorship Curbing Innovation In Southeast Asia?



The Jakarta Post: “Brunei has highest social media penetration in ASEAN

“Brunei has the highest social media penetration in ASEAN at 69 percent, more than double the global average, according to data published by We Are Social, a global digital media consultancy…. A regional report released by its Singapore office, titled ‘Digital, Social & Mobile in Southeast Asia in 2015’, stated that Brunei had 270,000 active social media users in the fourth quarter of 2015, representing 69 percent of the population.”



The Jakarta Post: “In hunt for clicks, media outlets bend toward sexism

“Amid stiff competition to retain popularity and readers, some media outlets continue to promote the objectification of women in the hunt for clicks and market share.”


The Jakarta Post: “Death penalty becoming more popular in Indonesia

“A separate recent report looks at how five leading newspapers in the country reported on the execution of death row inmates this year. The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Jakarta in its report criticized the media for not being critical enough in reporting these executions.”


Global Voices: “Indonesia Drafts New Ban on Cyberbullying, But Activists Say They’re the Target

“Proposed amendments to Indonesia’s Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law aim to protect children by criminalizing ‘cyberbullying,’ but some activists and free-speech advocates warn that the new legislation could also be used to stifle legitimate dissent.”



Free Malaysia Today. “Freedom of Information: Gerakan flays Penang Govt over need for SDs

“The Penang Government is not honouring its promise of doing away with statutory declarations for documents obtained via the state’s freedom of information (FOI) laws, says Gerakan…. State Gerakan Acting Youth Chief Jason Loo said his recent application to obtain a copy of the minutes of a state executive council meeting was returned with a letter asking for a sworn statement.”

See also:
Malay Mail Online: “Penang Gerakan claims government documents not released despite FOI applications


Human Rights Watch. “Malaysia: Crackdown on Free Speech Intensifies

“Malaysia’s prosecutions of peaceful speech over the past year have spread beyond activists and politicians to ordinary citizens on social media, Human Rights Watch said today (12 October 2016) in a new report. The government’s actions signal an ever-broadening crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly in the country.”

See also:
Malay Mail Online. “HRW: Malaysia aping Singapore with proposed Internet control
The Straits Times: “‘Malaysia trying to put Internet genie back in the bottle’
Asia Sentinel. “Malaysia: Crackdown on Free Speech Intensifies



Radio Free Asia: “ပအိုဝ္းဂ်ာနယ္ အယ္ဒီတာႏွစ္ဦးကို အသေရဖ်က္မႈနဲ႔ ဒဏ္ေငြေဆာင္ဖို႔ အမိန္႔ခ် (Two ethnic editors convicted of defamation)”

On 11 October 2016, two editors (Khun Than Aung and Khun Yar Zar) from the People’s Voice News Journal were found guilty of defaming the Pa-O National Organization (PNO). The court in Southern Shan State charged each editor to pay fine 30,000 Kyats (approx. $30) as penalty. The money was paid by people who helped the editors. But, Khun Than Aung told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that they were determined to submit their appeal to the court since they don’t agree with the decision.


RFA Burmese: “သတင္းေထာက္ ၿခိမ္းေျခာက္ခံေနရ (Journalist from The Voice Daily News threatened at his house)”

Tin Zaw Oo, a reporter from The Voice Daily News, held a press conference at the Mandalay Media Center on 13 October 2016 to share that logging smugglers are threatening him because of his news reports. Regarding the threat, he requested assistance from the Myanmar Press Council, Mandalay Administration, and Myanmar Journalists Network.


Myanmar Times: “Media group threatens libel suit after former employees of closed newspaper demand back pay

“A fierce row over claims for millions in compensation following the sudden closure of a Mandalay newspaper has intensified, as the publisher concerned has threatened critics with a libel suit…. On October 7, journalists from the now-defunct Mandalay Ahlin newspaper held a press conference to publicise their demand for nearly K26 million in back wages and fees they said they were owed. Former editor U Thant Zin Oo and deputy chief reporter Ma Thet Su Aung threatened legal action unless the money was paid to the 23 employees concerned.”



ABS-CBN News: “Duterte creates task force on media killings

“The task force shall conduct an inventory of cases of media killings within 30 days, including unsolved cases, cases under investigation, cases under preliminary investigation, cases under trial, and cases under appeal, (Communications Secretary Martin) Andanar said.”

See also:
INQUIRER.net: “Duterte forms presidential task force vs media killings
InterAksyon.com: “Duterte signs AO creating presidential task force for media protection” ; “NUJP welcomes with ‘guarded optimism’ creation of task force on violence against media workers
Asian Journal: “Palace order enhances media protection
South China Morning Post. “‘Duterte believes in freedom of the press’: Philippine president will create special task force to protect journalists
Gulf News: “Panel to probe killing of journalists in Philippines
Reuters: “Philippine president forms panel to probe media violence, protect press
Human Rights Watch (HRW): “Philippines Launches Inquiry Into Journalist Killings


Davao Today: “Court junks libel raps vs. Davao Today journo, child rights advocate

“Zea Capistrano, managing editor of Davao Today and Rius Valle of the Save Our School Network, said the government’s prosecutor’s office in Tagum City, Davao del Norte dismissed the case filed by 1st Lt. Eric R. Sumaliday, the company commander of Army’s Alpha Company 68th Infantry Battalion based at Sto. Niño, Talaingod in Davao del Norte…. In dismissing the charges, Associate Prosecution Attorney II Mark Cyrus C. Uno recommended to dismiss the complaint of Sumaliday for ‘lack of probable cause.'”


Rappler.com: “Malacañang eyes online portal to process FOI requests

“The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) is eyeing the use of an online portal to process the bulk of requests that would reach government agencies once President Rodrigo Duterte’s executive order (EO) on Freedom of Information (FOI) is fully implemented in November.”

See also:
GMA News Online: “House panel aims to have FOI bill OKd by year end
Philippine Daily Inquirer: “FOI exceptions down to ‘not more than 10’
InterAksyon.com: “Palace to release catalogue of FOI exceptions soon – PCO exec


The Freeman: “Are media soft or hard on Du30?

“In deference to the 100 days grace period and the high satisfaction rating of Duterte from day one to day 100, the national media have been tolerant and easy on him. A less popular President would have been lambasted on his curses and threats, his condemnation without due process, public shaming, and other un-presidential behavior. I would say that while the international media have reported it straight, the national media have been more accommodating in its reporting.”

See also:
Cebu Daily News. Editorial: “Silencing media to submission
Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Duterte according to Western media


The Philippine Star: “House panel wants law protecting journalists expanded

“The Del Mar bill will expand the coverage of the law to include legitimate broadcast and social media journalists and other practitioners, including cartoonists, photographers, commentators, broadcast station owners, managers, editors ‘or other practitioner involved in the gathering, writing, editing of, or commenting on the news for mass circulation or broadcast….’ The expanded statute would also cover news agencies and internet publications.”



The Straits Times: “New agency GovTech to lead tech push in public sector

“The Government Technology Agency, or GovTech, was launched yesterday (7 October 2016). Its brain bank includes 1,800 data scientists, technologists and engineers. Said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim: ‘Singapore must remain forward-looking and embrace technological change to realise our vision of becoming a smart nation.'”

See also:
Digital architecture for the next lap” ; “Leave no one behind in move to digital economy
InnovationAus.com: “Singapore reboots digital govt



The Guardian: “Thailand begins year of mourning after death of King Bhumibol

“Thailand has begun a period of mourning after the death of its revered king, with people wearing dark colours, websites turned black and white, and television channels switched to royal broadcasts.”

See also:
Khaosod English: “Military regime to return control to TV stations tonight
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “CPJ calls on Thailand to not censor news during royal transition
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand. “Press Releases : Foreign Media Reports on the Passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej


The Nation: “Prachatai journalist facing charges resolved to report on abuses of power

“Several weeks ago, Taweesak (Kerdpoka) and the activists he was charged with pledged to fight to prove their innocence after public prosecutors forwarded their case to the Ratchaburi Provincial Court in late August…. After being detained in July, the young reporter made headlines as the only journalist who had been arrested while performing his duty.”


Bangkok Post: “Fake internet photo libels Bangkok Post

“A malicious internet post defaming the high institution and attempting to libel the Bangkok Post appeared Wednesday (12 October 2016) on the internet.”


The Nation. “Computer crime law changes could violate freedom of expression: experts

“Human rights and international legal organisations yesterday voiced concerns over the new amendment to the Computer Crime Act, saying it could violate international standards, infringe on the right to expression and hamper digital economic growth.”

See also:
Bangkok Post: “Computer Crimes Act amendment ‘still too punitive’


The Nation: “Thailand is still number one for YouTube viewers in Southeast Asia

“Research shows that YouTube is the most popular and preferred video platform in Thailand, revealing that for the 62 per cent of Thais who use the Internet, half of the time spent online happens on YouTube.”



The New York Times: “Vietnam Arrests Mother Mushroom, a Top Blogger, for Criticizing Government

“The blogger, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, 37, was detained on Monday in Khanh Hoa, a south-central province. She was accused on Tuesday (11 October 2016) of distorting the truth and spreading propaganda against the state, according to the Vietnamese news media. The charges carry a maximum prison term of 12 years. No trial date was given.”

See also:
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Prominent blogger ‘Mother Mushroom’ detained in Vietnam



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

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