Malaysian Journalists Influence Media Ethics But Need Support

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In the absence of a progressive legal framework to establish a Media Council and a complimentary Code of Ethics, the actions of journalists as influencers and their adherence to ethical standards and values are what drives quality journalism in Malaysia. While their role is admirable, their impact remains low and needs to be backed up by other stakeholders.These were the key perspectives that emerged on 12 October 2021, during the webinar ‘Media Ethics and Journalism in Malaysia’ co-convened by Asia Centre, in collaboration with the School of Media and Communication of Taylor's University. The event, supported by the Taiwan Foundation…

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Workshop on Tackling Disinformation

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Asia Centre, in collaboration with the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF),  convened a two-day workshop on 25 September and 2 October 2021. These workshops,  moderated by Mr. Celito Arlegue, Executive Director of CALD, is a follow-up to Asia Centre and CALD’s baseline study, ‘Defending Freedom of Expression: Fake News Laws in East and Southeast Asia’ published in February 2021.On the first day, the main focus was on legal ways to address disinformation and how to mitigate the threats such legislation poses to freedom of expression. Hence, the participants considered the…

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6th International Conference (2021): COVID-19 in Asia: Communication, Nationalism and Technology

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From 8 to 10 September 2021, Asia Centre convened its 6th International Conference on COVID-19 in Asia: Communication, Nationalism and Technology. Due to the ongoing travel and health advisories at the time, the conference was convened as an online event with participants using teleconferencing software to join from different locations and across international time zones.Into its 6th year, Asia Centre’s annual conference continued to grow, with 17 partners who convened 15 panels. The Centre facilitated the presentations of 51 speakers of which 57% were male and 43% were female. The Conference examined a variety of impacts the pandemic has had…

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Data Protection Can Ease Fear in Cambodia

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Data protection is needed in Cambodia to address self-censorship arising from the monitoring and persecution of online users. This was the key theme that emerged during the online launch of Asia Centre’s baseline study: “Internet Freedoms in Cambodia: A Gateway to Control” on 1 September 2021.In his opening remarks, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Vitit Muntarbhorn stated that the government needs to comply with  international human rights standards. Given decreasing internet freedoms in Cambodia, he recommended that data protection and access to information be instituted to enable people to express their opinion without…

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Covid-19 Policies Impact Information Rights

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The COVID-19 related infodemic in Southeast Asia is affecting access to accurate information. This is in part caused by the implementation of the government’s public health policies for the pandemic. Censorship of information on the COVID-19 situation, propaganda from state-sponsored media to spin a positive image of the government and other policies are the key causes of disinformation.This was the major view that emerged from speakers of session two’s panel discussion, “Respect for Human Rights: Measurement and Implementation of Public Health Policy in Southeast Asia”. Six presenters from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Southern Thailand  provided their insights on…

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“Infodemic” Infringes Right to Accurate Information

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Large amounts of false or misleading information related to the COVID-19 pandemic, referred to as an “infodemic”, and the attempts to combat it, have actually infringed on the right to accurate information. Additionally, framing the “infodemic” as purely citizen-induced, a premise that wholly excludes government accountability, further exacerbates the infringement.This critical point was articulated during the launch of “Infodemic and SDGs: Internet Freedoms in Southeast Asia”, an Asia Centre report in collaboration with the Thai Media Fund. The launch was the first of a two-part event, “Human Rights in the Time of COVID-19: Lessons Learned from Southeast Asia” held on…

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Asia Centre’s Human Rights Internship Programme

From 2016 to August 2021, Asia Centre’s Internship Programme has hosted 38 interns, with a 2:3 male to female ratio for a total of 155 months. The interns were either undergraduates or postgraduates enrolled at universities in Australia, East Africa, East Asia, Europe, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Southern Africa and the USA. Interns applying to Asia Centre begin the process by filling in the online Google application form on the website and attaching copies of a CV, an official letter of university enrollment and photo page of passport or ID (for Thai applicants only). Following a review of the submitted…

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Asia Centre and Destination Justice Sign MOU

Asia Centre and  Destination Justice signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 4 July 2021. This MoU marks the start of the organisations’ collaboration on Thailand related projects, starting in 2021 and builds on 5 year of prior cooperation on regional issues. On 28 July 2021, Asia Centre and Destination Justice, together with other partners filed a submission: “Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Peaceful Protests During Crisis Situations” to the Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Assembly and of Association. The submission draws attention to the protection of human rights activists and protesters in the context of crisis and emergency…

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Timor-Leste’s Problematic “Internet” Laws

Timor-Leste’s government must set out clearly defined steps in the drafting process of its legislation, including ensuring there are consistent and adequate opportunities for consultation with the country’s stakeholders. These concerns over inadequate consultation have arisen on the back of three proposed laws on defamation, cybercrime and privacy that stand to impact internet freedoms. The draft Criminal Defamation Law, proposed in June 2020, would reinstate criminal defamation in Timor-Leste’s Penal Code and provide an easy path to criminalise critical opinions against the state or its officials. The draft Cybercrime Law, proposed in January 2021, does not provide adequate protection to human…

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Securitisation of Health Protocols: Impact on Vulnerable Communities

In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments across the Asian region have adopted (exceptional) health protocols to contain and arrest the spread of infections, and are now focusing on acquiring vaccines and rolling vaccination programmes. Many of the measures adopted have been characterised by a securitisation of health protocols and have either failed to address the specific needs of vulnerable communities, or worsened their already precarious conditions. To facilitate discussions on these trends, and identify avenues for positive change, on 18 June 2021 Asia Centre, Harm Reduction International (HRI) and UNITE Global Parliamentarians Network to End Infectious Diseases (UNITE) co-hosted…

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