Myanmar

Facebook News Media: Who Is Winning in Asia?

Chinese and Indian news media command millions of followers on Facebook - but it is in the much tinier Myanmar where news media is really effective?
 
Today, we released the Facebook Index Asia-Pacific, which measures news outlets in this part of the world based on the number of their followers reported to the size of their local market.
 
The news media market on Facebook in the Asia-Pacific region is extremely vibrant. Only two media outlets score more than 100 in the Index in Asia-Pacific, which is a low score compared to, say, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region where we have 17 such news outlets. However, that is explained by the homogeneity of the MENA market, where nations are united by the common use of Arabic. It is not the case in Asia, one of the most diverse continents, an amalgam of language markets, foreign influences and cultures.

Malaysiakini Under Fire

Malaysia’s embattled government has already offed most of the critical journalistic outlets in Malaysia. Now, it has a new target.
 
When a prime minister has US$ 700m in his private bank account, you have a story. But in Malaysia, only a few publications dared to cover it. Malaysiakini, one of the most dauntless media outlets in Malaysia, did so.
 
That came with grave consequences.
 
Steven Gan, the head editor and co-founder of the online portal Malaysiakini, was charged on 18 November 2016 for “offensive” content in two videos aired online by the portal’s sister company, KiniTV. Local observers said that the move was aimed at spooking critical voices before an antigovernment demonstration that took place the following day in the country’s capital city Kuala Lumpur. The protest was led by a local group of foursquare pro-democracy activists.
 
But the charges against Mr Gan are part of a much bigger game. The country’s government has been feverishly clamping down on a wad of critical media in the past two years. Those who couldn’t be brought into line have been rubbed out one by one. Malaysiakini is probably the last credible independent news site still breathing.
 
Now, Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak is hell-bent on weeding them out, too.
 

Internet Is Censored in Two-Thirds of the World

Many believe the Internet equals freedom of information. Recently, that has been less and less the case.
 
Maung Saung Kha, a 23-year old poet from Myanmar, was relieved last May to hear that he would be released from prison. On 24 May 2016, Mr Saung Kha was sentenced to six months in jail for defaming Myanmar’s former president Thein Sein, but because he had already spent six months behind bars, he was freed the same day.
 
His crime: posting a poem on Facebook in which a newlywed was baffled to see a tattoo featuring Myanmar’s former president on her husband’s genitals. The husband in the poem was Mr Saung Kha. In other parts of the world, such a poem would trigger a smile. But in Myanmar, authorities took this seriously. Using provisions on defamation from the telecommunications law, they justified imprisonment of the young bard in the Insein jail near Yangon, Myanmar’s capital city.
 

Why Himal is Leaving Nepal

Himal has been in business for three decades. Now it is folding, and Nepal’s authorities have a problem.
 
The end of summer got very heated for Himal Southasian, an English in-depth journalism magazine covering the South Asia region from a newsroom in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city. The publication announced that it would suspend operations by November 2016 after nearly three decades in business.
 
The closure was prompted by the failure of local authorities to process papers that would allow Himal Southasian to operate legally. More precisely, the Nepalese government prevented the magazine from accessing grants that they received from foreign donors. Organizations in Nepal that are funded by foreign entities have to apply to the authorities for a permit to access these funds. Only then can foreign groups wire cash to them.
 

CNN Teams up With Crony-Backed Media in Myanmar

Myanmar is set to have its first modern all-news television channel. Its designers are CNN and a local crony.
 
Back in 2011, the United States Campaign for Burma (USCB), a lobby group from America, asked the U.S. government to impose sanctions against 42 people who allegedly supported the military junta regime in Myanmar. They argued that generals, their families and cronies reap massive profits from a bevy of industries and save them in offshore accounts.
 
The list included bigwigs from banks, mining companies, construction and trade businesses.

Reform of Myanmar’s Media System: Bracing for a Slow Ride

Local journalists are investing much hope in the newly installed power in Myanmar to reform the country’s media system. But that will be a gargantuan task. Manny Maung argues that it will happen, but slowly.
 
Myanmar has for the first time in five decades sworn in an elected president without military ties. The  road towards democracy has been somewhat flawed, but this marks a significant turn of events from authoritative military rule which the country endured for more than 50 years.
 
Myanmar’s newest president, Htin Kyaw, was until recently a diminutive public figure. The 69 year- old former school friend of Aung San Suu Kyi is seen as a “proxy” president, who she says will act in her place. Aung San Suu Kyi herself cannot step into the top job as a clause in the constitution bans politicians with foreign family members from the presidency – her two sons are British. 

Myanmar's Government Hints About Closure of State-Run TV Are Merely an Odd Hoax

Many media observers were discombobulated when a state official hinted that Myanmar’s state-run TV could be shut down. But that’s just part of an outlandish government gambit to confuse people and, if possible, garner more support.
 
Media experts and journalists were left dumbfounded when last Sunday an official of the information ministry in Myanmar insinuated at a powwow of ethnic media groups in Arakan state that the country’s state broadcaster Myanmar TV (MRTV) would or could be dismantled. If MRTV is dissolved, then ethnic media will suffer, said U Tint Swe, a permanent secretary at the ministry.
 
The state has been pumping hefty cash in the past few years into strengthening its mouthpiece, as MRTV is known. Why would the government want to shut it down now?