SEAPA celebrates 10th anniversary

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance, or popularly known as SEAPA, had a bash last Saturday to commemorate its 10th anniversary at a hotel in downtown Bangkok where journalists, media activists, lawyers, social activists, academics and fund providers from the region and elsewhere congregated and, of course, celebrated.


At the anniversary dinner, the highlight of the event, ASEAN Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan, who’s also Thailand’s former Foreign Minister, delivered his keynote address on the role of the media in promoting the ASEAN community.


The articulate Pitsuwan impressed upon the audience of the importance of creating a sense of belonging among the peoples of the ASEAN community.


One of the items presented in the evening was an audio message from well-known Burmese journalist U Win Tin.


For the uninitiated, the Bangkok-based SEAPA was established in November 1998. It is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation advocating and protecting press freedom in Southeast Asia, and is composed of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI, Indonesia), the Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information (ISAI, Indonesia), the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (Philippines), the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and the Thai Journalists Association.


Earlier in the morning (of that Saturday), the Bangkok-based SEAPA held a network meeting on ‘Press Freedom and SEAPA Over the Next Ten Years’. Seasoned journalist Ravi Chongkittaavorn, who is also SEAPA Chairperson, gave a speech to welcome the delegates.


At the beginning of this meeting, SEAPA Executive Director Roby Alampay outlined some of the major concerns of journalists and human rights advocates and they are: [a] impunity or violence against journalists; [b] Internet/online expression; [c] censorship; [d] media ownership and control; [e] defamation; [f] access to information; [g] ethics and professionalism; [h] hate laws; [i] community journalism; [j] good governance; and [k] freedom of assembly and of association.


From Malaysia were Malaysiakini’s editor-in-chief Steven Gan, Malaysiakini’s CEO Premesh Chandran, Centre for Independent Journalism executive director V. Gayathry, Press freedom advocate Chuah Siew Eng, Balik Pulau MP Yusmadi Yusoff and lawyer H.R. Dipendra.


Discussions that ensued after the presentations of panellists were instructive. For instance, a participant observed that one of the ways the state could employ in order to harass a ‘curious’ journalist is to exploit issue of tax evasion or sexual preference of the journalist concerned.


A concern that was raised by a person from the floor is the impact of the current world financial crisis upon the media and media freedom in this region. He wondered whether the crunch could result in, among other things, further concentration of media ownership, with smaller media organisations being swallowed by the larger media conglomerates.


Below are some photos of the events.



Network meet

The SEAPA Network Meeting




Press freedom issue can be a hair-raising experience  



SEAPA Chairperson Kavi Chongkittavorn welcomes delegates of the meeting



SEAPA Executive Director Roby Alampay traces the organisation’s history and achievements










Malaysiakini’s Premesh Chandran looks into the future of the Internet


Abdul Manan











Abdul Manan of AJI speaks of his organisation’s future plans













H.R. Dipendra works towards the defence of media freedom in Southeast Asia


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