Hate Speech Echoes Government Speak

Hate speech in society towards vulnerable communities often reflects the discriminatory and prejudicial language by government officials and political leaders. In Southeast Asia, the spike in hate speech against migrant workers, refugees, undocumented workers, ethnic minorities and the homeless can be attributed to this trend. This was the analysis offered by speakers at Asia Centre’s webinar on COVID-19 and Vulnerable Communities on 24 June 2020. (watch it here)  The webinar attended by over 114 attendees of 380 registrants, offered a thorough discussion on hate speech arising from government and political speak. The event follows an earlier webinar on COVID-19 and…

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Hate Speech: Measures Shouldn’t Infringe Rights

Legal and non-legal measures to regulate hate speech should not infringe on freedom of expression. This was the cautionary advice arising from speakers and participants at Asia Centre’s first webinar that discussed the impact of COVID-19 crisis on hate speech in Asia. Over 215 attendees from a total of 395 registrants took part in the proceedings (See link to video). The webinar was the first of two on hate speech convened with the support of the Thai Media Fund. A second webinar, “COVID-19 and Vulnerable Communities”, is scheduled for 24 June 2020 which will discuss COVID-19’s impact on vulnerable and…

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Asia Centre resumes operations, strengthens online capacity

IntroductionAsia Centre has resumed office operations and has taken steps to strengthen its online capacity. The Centre is re-starting activities following a requisite COVID-19 postponement of some events and 10 weeks of remote working. Selected postponed activities will now move online, while the Centre enhances its online meeting capabilities and presence over social media. Postponed ActivitiesThe Centre’s first response to the COVID-19 pandemic began when it announced on 16 March 2020 that in-person activities will be postponed. These included halting the Melbourne Outreach planned for 23-27 March 2020 that consisted of meetings and lectures as well as two half-day seminars…

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Asia Centre Builds Momentum for Malaysia Branch

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Since 2016, Asia Centre’s has undertaken a series of Malaysia-related activities to build momentum for a new branch in Johor Bahru. To date the activities include discussions on Malaysia’s political transition, co-convening events on fake news, engagement with Malaysian media and exploratory partnership meetings with institutions based in Malaysia. Collectively these efforts form the basis upon which Asia Centre Malaysia, first publicly announced in 2018, will build its programme of activities moving forward.  Asia Centre began discussing Malaysia’s political transition as early as May 2016, when the Centre hosted Professor William Case, a well-known Malaysian studies scholar, who shared his…

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Asia Centre’s Dr. Gomez Awarded 2020 Taiwan Fellowship

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Asia Centre’s Regional Director, Dr. James Gomez has been awarded Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), 2020 Fellowship, to undertake research on disinformation operations, fake news and hate speech in Southeast Asia.  Known as the Taiwan Fellowship, it is awarded to foreign scholars and experts who plan to undertake part of their research at Taiwanese universities or academic institutions. The 2020 Taiwan Fellowship is the third in three years for Dr. Gomez. In 2019, Dr. Gomez received a Sumitomo Foundation Grant and in 2018 he was awarded the Korea Democracy Foundation Research Fellowship both times to undertake research on fake news…

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Strengthening Relationships with Taiwanese Institutions, Think-Tanks and Universities

In December 2019, Asia Centre Directors Drs. James Gomez, Robin Ramcharan, and Partnership Coordinator, Charlotte Yuchun Tseng participated in a series of events and meetings in Taiwan to strengthen relationships with Taiwanese institutions, think-thanks and universities in both Taipei and Kaohsiung. Starting in Taipei with the SEASIA biennial conference from 5-7 December at Academic Sinica, Drs. Gomez and Ramcharan presented their joint paper, “The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR): Normative and Institutional Pathways towards an Enhanced Protection Role” during the panel on Human Rights in Southeast Asia. On the sidelines of the SEASIA conference, Asia Centre’s Dr. Gomez,…

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Malaysia Launch: Journalism for an Equitable Asia

The impact of media business sustainability and fear on journalists became the point of contention during the Malaysia launch event of the Journalism for an Equitable Asia Award on 18 December 2019.  Co-convened by Asia Centre and Oxfam in Asia and supported by local partners Gerakbudaya and Orchan Consulting Asia, the event brought together 30 participants from the media, academia and civil society to discuss the challenges of reporting on inequality. The aim of organising the Journalism for an Equitable Asia Award is to promote strong journalism and acknowledge the hard work of journalists who have persisted in reporting on…

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Asia Centre Malaysia To Enhance Collaborative Experience

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Asia Centre aims to enhance the collaborative experience of its partners at its second Centre in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The new Centre’s design, a multifunctional facility for seamless co-working, meetings, networking and project administration, was finalised in December 2019 following discussions with interior renovation firms and feedback from partners. Asia Centre Malaysia located at ION 2, CI Medini Complex, Johor Bahru, Malaysia, will occupy a 20’ by 60’ intermediate corner three-storey lot with a total floor area of 3209 square feet. The ground floor will spot a reception counter and waiting lounge, wall mounted desks and freestanding tables and chairs,…

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Sumitomo Grant Aids Asia Centre’s Engagements in Japan

Asia Centre’s Regional Director Dr. James Gomez delivered 5 public lectures, signed 2 MOUs and met with academics, researchers, politicians, lawyers and civil society representatives in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka from 17-28 November 2019. This Japan visit is part of Asia Centre’s “Research on Fake News and Lessons from Japan for Southeast Asia,” supported by the Sumitomo Foundation. The primary purpose was to present the findings of Asia Centre’s initial baseline study on fake news in Southeast Asia to Japanese institutions.  The trip started off with a technical briefing on 18 November 2019 at the Headquarters of Liberal Democratic Party…

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Asia Centre and Thai Media Fund Sign MOU

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Dr. James Gomez, Regional Director, Asia Centre signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Mr. Wasan Paileeklee, CEO, Thai Media Fund (TMF) on 1 November 2019 to formalise both institutions’ cooperation on activities and research to promote digital and media literacy on challenges related to online disinformation such as fake news and hate speech. The signing was witnessed by Asia Centre's Program Coordinator, Yawee Butrkrawee; Asia Centre’s Manager, Patcharee Rattanarong; TMF’s Director of Media Literacy, Weeraphong Kangwannavakul Department and International Collaboration Officer, Atthanat Khurat.The MOU signing follows engagements between the two organisations, starting from September 2018 when Dr. James Gomez…

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