WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (9 – 15 September 2017)

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)

 

Alerts:

[Myanmar]

Burmese photographers covering the Rohingya crisis detained in Bangladesh

See also:

Myanmar Journalist Network (MJN)
MJN request to release two Myanmar journalists who are arrested in Bangladesh

 

[Philippines]

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)
NUJP on the police chief’s order to withhold spot reports from the press

 

Report:

[Myanmar]

Burma News International (BNI)
We will always speak the truth: DVB’s Executive Director

 

Opportunity:

[Regional] Fellowship 2017: Gender and Access to Information

 

Cambodia

The Phnom Penh Post: “Daily founder claims liability

“The founder of the now-shuttered Cambodia Daily, Bernard Krisher, has told Prime Minister Hun Sen in a letter that he will travel to the Kingdom to take on any tax liabilities of his daughter, Deputy Publisher Deborah Krisher-Steele, stemming from the paper’s dispute with the Tax Department…. Krisher-Steele, meanwhile, penned a separate letter to the premier distancing the paper’s closure from accusations of a wide-ranging crackdown on press freedom in Cambodia.”

See also:

Khmer Times: “Daily owner issues apology to PM
VOA Khmer: “Cambodia Daily Alumni Hope Cambodians Continue Free Press Tradition

 

Reuters: “Control of information shifts up a gear in run-up to Cambodia election

“Cambodia has long had one of Southeast Asia’s most open media environments, but journalists with publications critical of the government say work is becoming tougher than during any period of Hun Sen’s more than three-decade rule.”

See also:

MediaFile: “Cambodian Government Cracks Down on Media and Independent Organizations

 

Southeast Asia Globe: “The fresh prince of Cambodian media

“Mixed in with all the pro-government messaging and propaganda, which was ramped up ahead of local elections this month, is a blend of unmarked advertorials, tabloid news, international stories and political scoops that often set the agenda for other websites or snail-paced television and press outlets. One has to take (Lim) Cheavutha on his word when it comes to unverifiable figures on app downloads, but the one million figure certainly seems plausible given the almost two million followers of the Fresh News Facebook page…. Though his website operates as an expedient tool for the ruling party, Cheavutha says he has no political aims.”

 

Indonesia

KOMPAS.com: “AJI Nilai Darurat Demokrasi Terjadi di Rezim Jokowi (AJI Assessed that ‘Democracy Emergency’ is Happening in the Jokowi Regime)”

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) reported that journalists were not allowed to cover an event discussing the 1965/66 massacre. The event was supposed to be held at the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) office from 16 to 17 September 2017. AJI Chairman Suwarjono stated that the police should be aware that journalists’ activities are protected by the Press Law, and therefore prohibiting the reporting is against the law. At the event, there was no “dangerous urgency” which required the police to block the journalists who wanted to cover the event. The event itself was forcefully disbanded by the Police on Saturday, 16 September 2017, without providing any legal basis.

See also:

YLBHI Dikepung, Lebih dari 100 Orang Termasuk Lansia Tertahan di Dalam (YLBHI besieged, Over 100 Persons Including the Elderly Trapped Inside the Building)”
neral english: “Kontras Comments on Police Disband Seminar at YLBHI’s Office
viva.co.id: “AJI Kecam Aksi Polisi Bubarkan Paksa Diskusi di LBH Jakarta (AJI Slams Police Action on Forcefully Disbanding Discussion at LBH Jakarta)”
BBC Indonesia: “Polisi dan ormas cegah Seminar 1965 di LBH Jakarta (Police and Mass Organizations Prevented a 1965 Discussion in Jakarta)”
CNN Indonesia: “Massa Lempari Batu Gedung LBH Jakarta (Masses Throwing Rocks at LBH Jakarta Building)”

 

EngageMedia: “Are Journalists Safe in Indonesia?

“The conclusion of our interviews with Indonesian journalists is that they take digital security very lightly. Combined with the perception that there is little they can do about it, the current situation is not a good one. Most importantly, journalists will have to become more aware that lax digital security can have a very negative impact. Not only for the journalists themselves, but also for their sources, families, employers and the public.”

 

Malaysia

Malaysiakini: “KiniTV directors seek to strike out ‘unconstitutional’ charge

“The court today (6 September 2017) heard an application from KiniTV and its two directors, Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran, to strike out the charges against them under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act by declaring it as unconstitutional.”

 

Channel News Asia: “Najib defends record of free speech, democracy ahead of US visit

“Najib Razak on Sunday (Sep 10) defended the Malaysian government’s record of democracy and free speech, hitting out at the political opposition and their allies, whom he accused of trying to blacken the country’s name in American media.”

 

Free Malaysia Today: “Activist Jufazli arrested for alleged defamation over Tawau fires

“Youth activist and vocal critic of the Sabah government Jufazli Shi Ahmad was arrested in Kuala Lumpur today (10 September 2017) for defamation he allegedly committed on social media regarding a recent spate of fires in Tawau…. His lawyer, Rajsurian Pillai, told FMT Jufazli had gone to the Dang Wangi police headquarters after learning that police were looking for him.”

 

ARTICLE 19: “STATEMENT | Malaysia must reverse its crackdown on free expression as candidate for UN Human Rights Council membership

“ARTICLE 19 and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) consider that Malaysia’s record on human rights makes it a wholly unsuitable candidate for UN Human Rights Council membership, following the announcement of its intention to run for the term 2018 to 2020 and public pledge…. Malaysia’s worsening record on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, the non-ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, together with its dismal record of cooperating with the UN human rights system, requires that the government urgently initiate legal reforms and fundamentally change its approach to UN engagement, if it is to demonstrate its genuine intentions to meet its responsibilities as a Human Rights Council member.”

 

Myanmar

GEO: “GEO Photographer Minzayar Oo, detained in Bangladesh, has no access to his lawyer

“Burmese photojournalist Minzayar Oo and his assistant Hkun Lat are still in jail in Bangladesh, eleven days after being arrested in the town of Cox’s Bazar. The authorities in Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar are denying their lawyer access to the two detained photographers.”

See also:

Photographer Minzayar Oo, working on assignment for GEO magazine, detained in Bangladesh
The Irrawaddy: “Myanmar Photojournalists Detained in Bangladesh
Dhaka Tribune: “Myanmarese journalists may get 5 years in prison for alleged espionage
ABC News: “The Latest: 2 Myanmar journalists arrested in Bangladesh
France24: “Bangladesh accuses two Myanmar journalists of ‘espionage’
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Bangladesh detains two Myanmar journalists covering Rohingya crisis

 

Frontier Myanmar. “‘That guy should be killed’: Escaping a mob in Maungdaw

“Journalists trying to cover the conflict independently face a range of challenges. It’s no longer just about getting around government restrictions, keeping a low profile and trying to sort fact from fiction on the ground. It’s clear that civilian anger at the perceived bias of journalists – even Rakhine journalists working for domestic media – is going to make our jobs much more difficult.”

See also:

The Irrawaddy. “Reporter’s Notebook: Understanding Maungdaw’s Reality” ; “Analysis: Myanmar Journalists Call For Balanced Rakhine Coverage in Intl Media
Asian Correspondent. “Rohingya crisis: How social media adds fuel to the flame
Global Voices. “Netizen Report: Online Supporters of Myanmar’s Rohingya Face Censorship, Legal Threats
Al Jazeera. “Rohingya: Hate speech, lies and media misinformation
BBC. “Rohingya crisis: Seeing through the official story in Myanmar

 

DVB: “Journalists walk free from Hsipaw court

“Two DVB reporters, an Irrawaddy journalist and three other men were in Hsipaw courthouse today (15 September 2017) to hear that charges against them under the Unlawful Association Act have been officially withdrawn.”

 

The Diplomat: “What is the Future of the Media in Myanmar?

“Media development in Myanmar is at an important stage. After 60 years of military dictatorship and total control and censorship of the press, Myanmar’s new democratic transition – which began in 2011 – has seen new media freedoms and media development, combined with a legacy of oppressive laws and regulations which are still used to target journalists and publications. A strong and vigilant media will play a vital role in Myanmar’s development as a nation and a truly open society over the years to come.”

See also:

East Asia Forum: “A false dawn for media freedom in Myanmar?

 

Bangkok Post: “Myanmar broadcast media awakening caught on film

“The first half of her (Turid Rogne) one-hour film, Democracy Road, chronicled the evolution of DVB inside Myanmar. The first chapter titled ‘The Return’ follows Aye Chan Naing’s first trip back home, followed by a second chapter ‘The Road’ about the preparations for and anxiety about moving DVB’s operations to Myanmar.”

 

The Irrawaddy: “Independent Cinema Resists Censorship at Local Film Festival

“Filmmakers have stressed that the censorship board’s regulations and principles can become a potential threat for freedom of artistic expression and those who have long worked under the country’s strict censorship practices cannot help but continue to self-censor while making films.”

 

Philippines

EngageMedia: “Perceptions of Safety and Security among Journalists in the Philippines

“The 2016 interviews are useful baseline information for how journalists perceive their safety and security online. But the interviews took place more than one year ago. Since then, the political climate and situation in the Philippines has changed significantly. So has the social media landscape, behavior and to some extend the culture in the country. It would be interesting to explore with the same respondents, perhaps even with a bigger sample size, how journalists perceive their safety and security in 2017.”

 

INQUIRER.net: “PNA encountered ‘cyberattack,’ says Andanar

“The state-run news site Philippine News Agency (PNA) had encountered a cyberattack, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Monday (11 September 2017)…. The PNA on Friday found itself in another blunder as screenshots of several stories with an editor’s note as their lengthy titles quickly went viral on social media.”

 

philstar.com. “‘Era of fake news over’: Trillanes to sue Tulfo, Mocha for libel

“Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Monday (11 September 2017) declared that the era of fake news is over as he revealed his plan to file libel cases against several individuals who spread information on his alleged foreign bank accounts on the internet…. Trillanes slammed pro-President Rodrigo Duterte social media accounts and personalities for allegedly spreading false information about the existence of the said bank accounts, specifically Erwin Tulfo, a broadcast journalist, Mocha Uson, an assistant secretary, and Ben Tesiorna, a content contributor of CNN Philippines.”

See also:

Trillanes to push through with plan to sue Mocha for libel
GMA News Online: “Trillanes to file libel charges vs. Mocha, 2 others over ‘fake news’” ; “Mocha Uson on Trillanes’ libel threat: Paki-Google ang meaning ng alleged (Please Google the meaning of alleged)”
INQUIRER.net: “Davao journalist says Trillanes bank docs authentic

 

INQUIRER.net. “PNP: No new directive on barring media from police spot reports

“There is no new directive on barring media from access to police spot reports as allegedly ordered by Philippine National Police chief Dir. Gen. Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa.”

See also:

The Philippine Star. “PNP: No media ban on spot reports
philstar.com. “PNP: No new order but access to spot reports now restricted
InterAksyon: “NUJP demands Bato restore media access to police spot reports; Ping agrees
Cebu Daily News: “Reporters no longer allowed access to PNP spot reports” ; “Journalists condemn ban on spot reports
SunStar Cebu. “Journalists: Reconsider order disallowing spot reports release” ; “Cebu declaration vs PNP ban on spot reports
PTV News: “PNP assures media access to police reports

 

Cebu Daily News: “Sasot threatens libel vs UP Cebu org

“For ‘implying’ she was a forerunner of fake news…A popular social media personality has threatened to file libel charges against several members of a student-based organization from the University of the Philippines – Cebu (UP Cebu).”

See also:

Rappler.com. “UP Cebu students: Sass’ libel threat a direct attack on freedom of expression

 

SunStar Cebu. “Maria Ressa: Let’s band together to stop the spread of fake news

“A veteran journalist and top official of a news website urged journalists to band together to combat disinformation and the proliferation of fake news.”

 

Singapore

The Straits Times. “2 in 5 people in Singapore actively stream pirated content: Study

“Two in five people in Singapore are actively tuning in to pirated content, and many of them do so via media players that let them stream online content to their television sets…. This finding comes from the latest study on piracy in Singapore, commissioned by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (Casbaa).”

See also:

Channel News Asia. “Almost 4 in 10 Singaporeans actively streaming content illegally: CASBAA study

 

Thailand

Bangkok Post: “Panel to probe ‘groper’ case as media winces

“The Thai Journalists Association (TJA) agreed Sunday to set up a panel to unearth the truth about a sexual harassment allegation against an executive of a media outlet.”

See also:

The Nation: “Media executive to be probed over sexual harassment report” ; “Media credibility at risk in sex scandal case, TJA warned
Khaosod English: “Journalism association investigates sexual harassment allegations
Thai PBS: “Isra Institute defends its director against sexual harassment allegation

 

Vietnam

VN Express International: “Why Vietnam can’t hold back Facebook

“But unlike in China, the social media giant is here to stay in Vietnam. Vietnam is among Facebook’s top 10 countries by users. The country now boasts more than 52 million active accounts to advertisers, Reuters has reported, citing social media agencies We Are Social and Hootsuite…. The reason is not hard to fathom: Vietnam lacks the financial wherewithal and leverage over Western firms like Facebook or Google to simply block them. The sheer size of China means that it can develop alternative platforms and put them under its control.”

 

NOTE

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

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