Coalitions, both regional and national, needed to promote and improve internet freedoms in Southeast Asia through legislative reform and media literacy training.

Advocacy for reforming key restrictive legislations and capacity-building, especially on media literacy, and the formation of regional and national coalitions are the top strategy choices to improve internet freedoms in Southeast Asia. These were the practical approaches identified by over 30 parliamentarians, UN agencies, representatives from CSOs and media associations across Southeast Asia who attended the “IFSEA (Internet Freedom in Southeast Asia) Regional Conference” co-convened by Asia Centre and the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) between 9–10 May 2023, in Bangkok, Thailand.  The regional conference is a part of the wider IFSEA project undertaken by Asia Centre with the…

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State-sponsored Disinformation To Impact Thailand’s Election Integrity

On 28 April 2023, Asia Centre held a discussion panel for the launch of its latest report “State-Sponsored Online Disinformation: Impact on Election Integrity in Thailand”. The discussion panel assesses how state-sponsored disinformation or Information Operations (IOs) impact Thailand’s electoral integrity. A week after releasing, Bangkok Post, an English-language daily newspaper, published an opinion piece,  State Lies Hurt Election Integrity written by Dr James Gomez and Korbkusol Neelapaichit.  Besides, the key research findings were also promoted via an online campaign with infographics posted on Asia Centre’s social media platforms, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, and Tiktok. The event, at the Centre’s Meeting…

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Asia Centre Engages Timor-Leste’s Political Leadership Over Internet Freedoms

From 13-17 February 2023, Dr. James Gomez, Asia Centre’s Regional Director, visited Dili, the capital city of Timor-Leste to engage with Timor-Leste’s political leadership, parliament and other stakeholders on the findings from Asia Centre and International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL)’s report Timor- Leste: Internet Freedoms Under Threat and to boost future collaboration with local stakeholders. Dr. Gomez kicked off his visit on 13 February 2023 with a bilateral meeting with President of the National Parliament, Aniceto Guterres Lopesthe. He handed over the report and discussed how the parliament had a role in improving Timor-Leste’s internet freedoms.  While at the…

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Asia Centre Launches Report on Internet Freedom in Malaysia

On 1 March 2023, Asia Center held a virtual launch and discussion of its latest report Internet Freedoms in Malaysia: Regulating Online Discourse on Race, Religion, and Royalty. The event drew over 60 participants and included members of academic institutions, representatives from civil society organisations, human rights activists, lawyers and journalists.  The report was first released online to the public and the media on 16 January 2023. The next day, the Malay Mail published an article, Study: ‘Ultranationalist’ groups gaining traction in Malaysian online space following Umno’s defeat in 2018 polls | Malay Mail by Keertan Ayamany. In the afternoon,…

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Asia Centre and National Human Rights Commission of Thailand Sign Cooperation Agreement

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Sign Cooperation Agreement On 23 February 2023, Asia Centre and 4 other Southern Thailand academic institutions - Fatoni University, Thaksin University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Prince of Songkla University (Pattani Campus), Faculty of Law, Prince of Songkla University - each signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT). Held at the Science Park, Prince of Songkla University and coordinated by NHRCT’s southern region office, the joint signing ceremony was witnessed by Assistant Professor Suchart Setthamalinee, National Human Rights Commissioner of Thailand and Professor Sirirurg Songsivilai, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of…

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Report Summary — Foreign Interference Laws in Southeast Asia: Deepening the Shrinkage of Civic Space

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Foreign Interference Laws (FILs) have a legitimate use in safeguarding democracy. Authoritarian regimes, however, tend to abuse FILs and employ the rhetoric of ‘foreign interference’ to shrink civic space, control ideas and perpetuate regimes’ status quo. This is the case for Southeast Asia. The threat of international actors calling out Southeast Asian countries’ democratic and human rights lapses by supporting the work of national CSOs is leading to the introduction of FILs to counteract such efforts. In light of this, Asia Centre, in collaboration with Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC), released Foreign Interference Laws in Southeast Asia: Deepening…

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Asia Centre Leads UNESCO Media Assessment in Cambodia

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On 3 February 2023, Asia Centre’s Dr. James Gomez presented the research plan for the project “Assessment of Media Development in Cambodia” to officials from the Royal Government of Cambodia, representatives and journalists from media organisations and representatives of civil society organisations who are part of a National Steering Committee (NSC) set up to support the assessment effort. The Assessment, led by Asia Centre, is being undertaken in partnership with the UNESCO Office in Phnom Penh and the Department of Media and Communication (DMC) of the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP). It is an evaluation of Cambodia’s media development…

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Internet Freedoms in the Asia-Pacific Region are Under Threat

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On 14 January 2023, Asia Centre organised the Asia-Pacific Digital Rights Forum in partnership with EngageMedia to discuss the state of internet freedoms in Asia-Pacific and why they are shrinking as a result of legal and non-legal measures taken by governments and non-state actors alike. The forum was attended by 29 people - including participants and speakers - from various sectors, including online media organisations and journalists, lawyers, representatives of INGOs, UNDP representatives, researchers, and members of academic institutions. The forum kicked off with an Asia Centre panel Internet Freedoms in Southeast Asia and Thailand, moderated by Dr Marc Piñol, Research…

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Asia Centre at Indonesia’s Parliamentary Seminar

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On 27 January 2023, Dr James Gomez delivered a presentation at the “National Economic Prospects & Preparation for 2024 General Election in Indonesia Amidst Global Uncertainty” seminar hosted by the Parliamentary Expert Agency, Republic of Indonesia for its Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) stakeholders.  Speaking on the topic “Southeast Asia’s Recovery Amidst Global Uncertainties: The Role of Tertiary Institutions”, Dr Gomez reflected on how tertiary institutions in Southeast Asia risk losing their relevance as they face a decline in quality and enrollment in a post-pandemic era today. A shift of approach is needed through active collaboration and innovation across all sectors…

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Asia Centre signs MoU with 5 Thai Universities

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On 12 January 2023, Asia Centre and 5 Thai universities including Maejo University, Rajamangala University of Technology Suvarnabhumi, Chulalongkorn University, Prince of Songkla University and Uttaradit Rajabhat University signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen their cooperation on ASEAN Digital Literacy Programme and explore opportunities for future collaboration including other joint activities and research outputs. The signing was witnessed by Google’s Asia-Pacific Information Policy Lead, Jean-Jacques Sahel and the Head of Programme at ASEAN Foundation, Mahmudi Yusbi. The MoU was signed following the completion of the first part of ASEAN Digital Literacy Programme which was launched in partnership with ASEAN…

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