Asia Centre Internship Programme Draws Interest at University of Reading Malaysia

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On 24 January 2024, Asia Centre manned a booth at the University of Reading Malaysia (UoRM) Career Fair 2024. The fair, which featured more than 40 companies and organisations across Malaysia, consisted of booths and career talks by experts to help students make informed decisions for their future career paths.  Asia Centre was invited by UoRM Head of School of Law, Associate Professor Anne Vergis to the Career Fair to introduce the Centre’s human rights work, including legal research and advocacy for law reforms.  About 20 students dropped by the booth during the course of the day. At the booth,…

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Asia Centre Launches Report on Online Content Regulations in the Asia-Pacific

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On 18 January 2024, Asia Centre held a virtual launch and discussion of its latest report, “Online Content Regulation in the Asia Pacific: Limiting Civil Society Capacity to Hold Government Accountable.” The report launch is part of the Digital Rights Programme for Civil Society Organisation, jointly organised by Asia Centre and Google Asia Pacific. The event drew over 50 participants, including members of academic institutions, representatives from civil society, lawyers and journalists.In his welcome remarks, Dr. James Gomez, Regional Director of Asia Centre, highlighted that digital platforms not only change users’ behaviours but also the way in which CSOs operate,…

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Cross-sector partnership required to advocate for internet freedoms in Thailand

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On 12 January 2024, Asia Centre organised a roundtable discussion titled "Safe Internet Usage in Thailand," which brought together representatives from political parties, government agencies, civil society organisations, and the media. The objective of the roundtable was to lay the groundwork for advocacy initiatives focused on digital rights and promoting safe internet usage in 2024 in Thailand.Yawee Butrkrawee, Senior Researcher at Asia Centre, opened the roundtable discussion by presenting the key findings and policy recommendations from Asia Centre's policy brief Restrictions on Internet Freedoms: Recommendations for Thai Policy-makers and Civil Society. The report analyses the ramifications of both legal and…

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National Human Rights Institutions must safeguard digital rights of human rights defenders 

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many regimes in Asia were already reluctant to promote civic space, fearing that it might empower democratic forces. The onset of the pandemic brought about a troubling shift in behaviour. Under the guise of preventing virus spread, governments justified curtailing these freedoms, disregarding international standards that stipulate restrictions must have legitimate grounds and must not result in breaches of international law.

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Asia Centre Concludes Media Assessment Research in Cambodia

Asia Centre concluded its media assessment research by presenting the findings of its assessment of Cambodia’s media landscape to a multi-stakeholder advisory board during a validation meeting held on 18 December 2023 in Phnom Penh. A group of Cambodian stakeholders, inclusive of representatives from the government sector, media industry, and civil society, labelled the report as a “landmark report” given the depth of its analysis and overall significance since reports on this topic are scarce in the country. This gathering served as the culmination of Asia Centre’s comprehensive year-long assessment of Cambodia's media landscape. Formally initiated in February 2023, the research,…

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Digital Rights Programme for Civil Society Organisations Kicks Off

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More than 30 representatives from civil society organisations (CSOs) and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) attended the Kick-off Information Session of the Digital Rights Programme for Civil Society Organisations. Held online on 19 December 2023, participants represented 18 CSOs and 9 INGOs. Co-convened by Asia Centre and Google, the programme aims, over a 12 month period, to strengthen the capacity of CSO to respond to legislation that impacts digital rights in the Asia-Pacific region. Since 2015, the region has been experiencing a rise in regulatory frameworks across national jurisdictions that restrict freedom of expression and impede freedom of assembly. This has led…

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Restrictive Laws Spur Self-censorship and Euphemisms in Journalism

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Highly restrictive laws have spurred self-censorship and the use of euphemisms in journalism. Meanwhile, business sustainability issues have forced media organisations to engage in advertorial and service-based revenue generation. Transformative changes and the ability to address these challenges, however, need to occur with multiple stakeholders, including the media and journalists. These and other challenges for news outlets and journalists in the Asian region were brought up by many participants at the “Asia Media Forum: Let’s Talk Equality” event held in Bangkok, Thailand on 11-12 December 2023. The event was co-convened by Asia Centre and Oxfam in Asia and was attended by…

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Navigating the Digital Space: Challenges and Strategies in Contemporary Activism

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In the heyday of digital activism, the online realm held promise as a dynamic battleground for social change. The openness and lack of border restrictions seemed to provide fertile ground for activists to orchestrate campaigns, as seen in the transformative movements like the Arab Spring and Taiwan's Sunflower Movement. However, the optimism surrounding the efficacy of online activism has proven short-lived, especially in the face of increasing restrictions imposed by authoritarian regimes across Asia.Examples abound of repressive tactics, from judicial harassment to internet shutdowns, online censorship, information warfare, and digital surveillance. These measures have significantly curtailed the effectiveness of digital…

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Asia Centre Presents the Preliminary Results of Cambodia’s Media Landscape Assessment

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On 27 October 2023, Asia Centre convened the second meeting of the multi-stakeholder advisory board to present the preliminary findings of its study for the “Assessment of Media Development in Cambodia”.The meeting took place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Phnom Penh and was attended by 23 participants, including representatives from the relevant ministries, diplomatic missions, media-related CSOs, journalists, and media professionals. Sardar Umar Alam, UNESCO Representative to Cambodia, and Dr James Gomez from the Asia Centre gave the welcome remarks, outlining the importance of using UNESCO’s media indicators to assess the media landscape in the country and also provided…

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IFSEA End-of-Project Partners’ Meeting Prepares for New Challenges, Strategises for Phase II

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At the Internet Freedoms for Southeast Asia (IFSEA) End-of-Project Partners’ Meeting held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, there was broad consensus among the more than 20 participants that more still need to be done to protect digital rights. Three focus areas identified were: advocacy with governments, building coalitions in the region with other like-minded stakeholders, and implementing capacity-building activities. The partners’ meeting took place from 1–3 November 2023, co-convened by Asia Centre and the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL). It was attended by representatives from the Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association (CamboJA), Open Development Cambodia (ODC), KRYSS Network, Hadomi Timor Foundation–FONGTIL,…

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