04/06/2018
 

Asia Pacific Bulletin: JUNE

Former Malaysian prime minister and opposition candidate Mahathir Mohamad (C) celebrates with other leaders of his coalition during a press conference following the 14th general elections in Kuala Lumpur on early May 10, 2018. Credit: Manan VATSYAYANA/AFP

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Asia Pacific, News, News, ASIA PACIFIC, Campaigns, Reports, Events, Meeting, Workshop, Conference

Welcome to the IFJ Asia-Pacific’s monthly e-bulletin. The next bulletin will be sent on July 1, 2018 and contributions from affiliates are most welcome. To contribute, email ifj(at)ifj-asia(dot)org

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In this bulletin:

1.       Malaysian elections bring hope for change

2.       Fiji Times staff cleared of sedition

3.       IFJ calls for end to discrimination and abuse of women journalists

4.       Cambodian newspaper sale raises questions over press freedom

5.       Taiwan journalist barred from World Health Assembly

6.       Australia: Union negotiations bring win for gender equality

7.       Nepal media barred from covering Indian PM state visit

8.       Unacceptable: Russian journalist fakes death

9.       WPFD: Accra Declaration adopted for press freedom

10.   SAMSN Blog: The deadly realities of media work in Afghanistan: Ezzatullah Mehrdad

 

1.       Malaysian elections bring hope for change

On Thursday, May 10, Malaysia held the 14th general election (GE14) which saw the defeat of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) which has held government in Malaysia for 61 years. Led by Najib Razak, the UMNO was defeated by the Pakatan Harapan governing coalition, led by former Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Matathir. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the National Union of Journalists, Peninsular Malaysia (NUJM) welcome the elections and call on the new government to guarantee press freedom in Malaysia.

NUJM general secretary, Chin Sung Chew said: “As we all know, Malaysia’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index has been dropping from year to year during the previous government’s administration. Reviewing and repealing, if necessary, all relevant laws immediately will not only improve the media industry’s role and professionalism, but also boost its standard at global level.”

Read more here.  

2.       Fiji Times staff cleared of sedition

In a decision that has been welcomed in the region, three executives and an opinion writer from the Fiji Times have been cleared of sedition by the Fiji High Court on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. The decision came after a panel of three High Court assessors found all parties in the case including publisher, Hank Arts, editor, Anare Ravula, editor-in-chief, Fred Wesley, and opinion columnist Josai Waqabaca, not guilty of the charges in a preliminary court ruling. The charges stemmed from a column Waqabaca wrote, which was published in the April 27, 2016, edition, Nai Lalakai, of a weekly indigenous-language newspaper, which is published by the Fiji Times. According to AP, Waqabaca’s column ‘accused Muslims of historic crimes including invading foreign lands, rape and murder’.  A senior government official complained, and subsequently, Waqabaca was charged with sedition for intentionally promoting “feelings of ill-will and hostility” between Muslims and non-Muslims in Fiji.

Read more here.

3.       IFJ calls for end to discrimination and abuse of women journalists

Dozens of delegates at the IFJ’s gender council conference - from Asia to the Americas and Europe to the Middle East – have issued a global call for action to address the violence, poverty and discrimination faced by women worldwide. The conference condemned: the violence and harassment women journalists face daily, the gender pay gap, the increasingly precarious working conditions of women journalists and the discrimination of women journalists.

Read more here.

4.       Cambodian newspaper sale raises questions over press freedom

The Phnom Penh Post, seen as the last independent daily in Cambodia was sold to a Malaysian investor, with ties to Cambodia Prime Minister, Hun Sen, on Saturday May 5, 2018. Australian owner of the Post, Bill Clough announced that the sale of the English language daily to Malaysian investor Sivakumar G.

Two days after the sale, the editor-in-chief of the Post, Kay Kimsong was fired, after the new owner took grivence against the Post’s coverage of the sale. The authors of the story, Brendan O’Byrne and Ananth Baliga announced that they had resigned after they were asked to take the story down. In all 23 staff members resigned from the Post just two days after the sale.

Read more here.

5.        Taiwan journalist barred from World Health Assembly

The World Health Assembly, the annual meeting of the World Health Organisation will take place in Geneva, Switzerland on May 21-26. This year, is the second year that Taiwan has not been invited to attend the meeting, having previously attended the annual meeting for eight years. On Monday, CNA Taiwan was told that for the second year its journalists have been denied accreditation to cover the meeting. The email from WHO said: “We regret to inform you that your registration for the meeting has not been approved."

ATJ said that denying access to Taiwan journalists questions the transparency and accountability of the WHO.

Read more here.

6.        Australia: Union negotiations bring win for gender equality

On May 28, Fairfax Media in Australia agreed to extend superannuation to employees on parental leave. The decision came after several years of bargaining agreement negotiations with the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). In a statement MEAA said: “This terrific win has not come out of thin air. MEAA members have pursued not only this important issue, but have kept the pressure on management to do the right thing by their employees – in particular their female workforce – in all areas, including closing the pay and opportunity gap, creating a more balanced approach to parental leave and now to do their part to correct the appalling gap between the retirement savings of female and male workers.” MEAA said this is a first for a major commercial media organisation.

Read here.

7.        Nepal media barred from covering Indian PM state visit

Nepali media were barred from covering some events during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mustang and Kathmandu on May 12. On May 12, India’s PM Modi visited Mustang district and Muktinath Temple, and also accepted the felicitation by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City in Kathmandu. However, Nepali media, despite holding the special pass provided by the Ministry of Culture were not allowed to cover the events.

Foreign media representatives, including Indian media, were allowed in whereas Nepali journalists were prohibited entry in Muktinath temple premises where PM Modi performed special prayers and the city hall where he received the felicitation. Journalists in Kathmandu protested the behavior by putting down their cameras on the street outside the city hall.

Read more here.

8.       Unacceptable: Russian journalist fakes death

Twenty four hours after the announcement of his death, Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko appeared alive, May 30, during a press conference in Kiev, a city where he was reported killed by three bullets in his back on May 29.

Arkady Babchenko is still alive and can continue to exercise his profession as an outspoken journalist: this is great news. However, by spreading false evidence about his murder, Ukrainian authorities have seriously eroded the credibility of information, and their communication runs the risk of being considered a propaganda operation,” said IFJ president Philippe Leruth.

 

9.       WPFD: Accra Declaration adopted for press freedom

Over 700 participants, representing journalists’ unions, media organisations, governments, human rights and freedom of expression organisations in the 25th UNESCO Press Freedom Day International Conference held in Accra on 2-3 May, adopted the Accra Declaration.

Read more here.

10.   The deadly realities of media work in Afghanistan, by Ezzatullah Mehrdad

On April 30, ten Afghan journalists were killed in one day. Nine of those were killed in a targeted suicide bomb attack in Kabul. Read about the deadliest day for Afghanistan’s media here.

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