October 28, 2006
27 October – In 2001, political party Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) bought a controlling stake in Nanyang Press Holdings, which publishes two major Chinese-language newspapers. The deal almost split the party and outraged Malaysians of Chinese descent who feared political interference in the relatively independent and feisty Chinese press. Five years later, the controversial purchase is back in the limelight as the MCA recently sold almost half of its stake to local tycoon Tiong Hiew King, who owns rival publisher Sin Chew Media Corporation. Tiong now has a stake of close to 45% in the four top Chinese-language dailies in the country, confirming earlier fears of a political-business alliance to control the Chinese press.
In response, a 19 October 2006 petition signed by 47 diverse civil society groups and opposition political parties is demanding for a review of the laws to ensure media independence and plurality. The petition was initiated by the Writers Alliance for Media Independence, the Civil Rights Committee and Youth Section of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall and the Centre for Independent Journalism. Read SEAPA’s full alert and Reporters Without Borders’ release which gives a brief overview of who owns the media in Malaysia.
October 28, 2006
24 October – The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) is more than a little bemused by Malaysia Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s recent claim that “the Malaysian press have freedom” and are “not tightly controlled”. In an interview with CNN aired on 14 October 2006, Abdullah denied that the media are tightly controlled, though he admitted that they practise self-censorship, reported wire service AFP.“The main press self-censor but. . .other little ones. . .print all sorts of things,” he was quoted as saying.While SEAPA is heartened that Abdullah recognises the reality of self-censorship in the news room, we wished that the prime minister, who is also the internal security minister, had been as forthright in revealing the reasons for this regrettable practice. Read the rest of this entry »
October 20, 2006
Following recent cases of criminal disinformation suits by high-ranking Government officials, the Alliance for Freedom of Expression in Cambodia (AFEC) is demanding for the abolition of Article 62 of the UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia) Penal Code which concerns criminal disinformation.
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October 17, 2006
The Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility says a Philippine court has issued warrants for the arrest of a former senator, a national newspaper publisher and several of the newspaper’s staff members, on the strength of libel suits filed by the husband of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. CMFR says Judge Silvino Pampilo Jr. of the Manila Regional Trial Court ordered the arrest of Malaya publisher Amado Macasaet; editors Enrique Romualdez, Joy de los Reyes, Ma. Teresa Molina, and Minnie Advincula; reporters Ellen Tordesillas, JP Lopez and Regina Bengco; and columnist Francisco Tatad.
Jose Miguel Arroyo, husband of Philippine president Gloria Arroyo, has in recent months filed libel cases against 43 reporters, columnists, editors and publishers of various publications. A complete list of the cases is provided and updated by Ellen Tordesillas here. Critics have made a game of wondering who Mr. Arroyo will sue next.
A lawyer himself, Mr. Arroyo is shrewd and calculating in his exploitation of libel laws in the Philippines, Theodore Te, a leading human rights lawyer has pointed out. Related to this, more than 600 journalists and 30 local and foreign media organisations, including the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) and SEAPA, have supported a petition drafted by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines calling for the decriminalization of libel in the country.
October 16, 2006
The following is a 12 October 2006 media statement by the Centre for Independent Journalism and Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI):
Prove ASLI wrong: Release the information
The Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI) and the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) condemn the strong-arm tactics applied by Government leaders, politicians and businessmen to the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI) and its Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) to withdraw CPPS’ contentious report on the New Economic Policy (NEP). Read the rest of this entry »
October 12, 2006
Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont says there is a need to keep martial law in place in Thailand, three weeks after the military coup that toppled the government of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Surayud’s defense minister, Boonrawd Somtas, had suggested that martial law could be lifted in a few months, but the current prime minister refuted any such optimistic plans, calling Somtas’ comment a mere reflection of his “personal opinion”.
There are signs, however, that some members of Thai civil society are growing anxious with the lack of a timframe for ending martial law. The Thai Broadcast Journalists Association says the broadcasting industry and media in general are intimidated enough to “feel suffocated” and to practice widespread self-censorship. The webmaster of www.19sep.org — shut down after last month’s coup — criticised the attitude of the coup leaders and the new administration as paternalistic. And the Center for Popular Media Reform organized an illegal assembly to lament the “death” of Thailand’s 1997 Constitution.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand on October 12 will hold a panel discussion entitled, “Voices against the Coup: All is not well in the Land of Smiles”, featuring some of the staunchest and most vocal critics of the Thai coup and its adverse impact on the Thai media environment.
October 9, 2006
The following is a 6 October 2006 media statement by Malaysia’s Centre for Independent Journalism and the Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI):
The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and the Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI) are worried by a police attempt to prevent coverage of an event organised by NGOs and an opposition political party. Read the rest of this entry »