New Zealand's Race Relations Commissioner, Susan Devoy, has been ranting at newspaper cartoons she said were offensive and appalling.
She has questioned the high threshold required for a finding of racism within the commission's inquiries and complaints process. Asked why anyone should make a complaint about the cartoons when the threshold for what was considered racism was so
high, she replied: I ask myself that all the time .
The cartoons, by award-winning cartoonist Al Nisbet, were printed in the Marlborough Express and The Press.
The Marlborough Express cartoon featured a group of adults dressed in school uniforms heading to school with bowls in hands. Among them were a man and woman who looked to be Maori or Pasifika. The man says to the woman, who has a cigarette
hanging out of her mouth, Psst. If we can get away with this, the more cash left for booze, smokes and pokies .
The Press cartoon featured what appeared to be a rotund group of seven, surrounded by Lotto tickets, beer cans and cigarette packets. The man says: Free school food is great. Eases our poverty and puts something in you kids' bellies.
Devoy told reporters that the cartoons were a case of wrongful stereotyping:
It continues to stereotype certain populations, and it continues to stigmatise people who live in poverty, particularly children
Devoy said the editors of the newspapers should apologise for running the cartoons. There was a right to freedom of expression and speech, and people could say and print what they liked even if it was offensive ...BUT... they needed
to act responsibly.
Thousands of Koreans arrested in 2 months under a vague new law covering underage depiction of vaguely drawn sexy anime/manga characters, with the police keen to show how seriously they are taking the new law
The Singapore government is stepping up censorship control of local online news sites which report regularly on the country and have significant reach.
From 1 June, 10 websites will be subjected to an individual licence, just like traditional media platforms.
Once the affected sites come under the individual licensing regime, they will have to fork out a performance bond of S$50,000. They will also have to comply with any take-down notice from authorities within 24 hours. The authorities can ban
content including tha which solicits for prostitution, undermines racial and religious harmony, or goes against good taste.
Communications and Information Minister Dr Yaacob Ibrahim also hinted that the rule may in future apply to overseas news sites reporting on Singapore. He said the Broadcasting Act will be amended next year, with the view of including overseas
news sites reporting on Singapore. Yaacob said:
Our mainstream media are subjected to rules, you know... Why shouldn't the online media be part of that regulatory framework? I don't see this as a clamping down, if anything, it is regularising what is already happening on the Internet and
(making sure) that they are on par with our mainstream media.
Online news sites which fulfil two specific criteria will be subjected to this latest censorship scheme.
Sites which publish at least eight articles on Singapore over a period of two months.
They must also have been visited by at least 50,000 unique IP addresses from Singapore each month, over the same period.
So far, 10 such sites have been identified. All belong to mainstream media, with the exception of Yahoo news.
Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has a supermajority in the lower chamber of the National Diet has formed an alliance with minority parties the New Komeito Party and the Japanese Restoration Party, and together, they have proposed a
law that would criminalize possession of sexual images of individuals under 18, according to the Japan Daily Press.
The proposed law doesn't distinguish between sexual images of actual children and drawn images that can be found all over Japan in the form of animated short features ( anime ) and sexy comic strips in book and magazine form ( manga
If the proposed law passes, and the proposing bloc have enough votes to force it through regardless of opposition, then Japanese citizens possessing sexy anime will face fines of Yen1,000,000 (US$10,437) per offense... and if the person has been
found to possess the material for the purpose of satisfying sexual curiosity, add a sentence of up to one year in prison for that enhancement.
The bill's sponsors hope to have the law in place by the time the current legislative session ends on June 26.
A new law has come into force in Vietnam that effectively bans the broadcast of foreign news services.
The law requires international broadcasters to provide translation into Vietnamese of their contents before airing, with the exception of live sporting events. Pay television groups have said the law is impractical and prohibitively expensive.
A Vietnamese satellite TV provider has now stopped broadcasting foreign channels including BBC and CNN and has warned that the law would leave the country without access to international news and entertainment channels.
For the moment other major providers continued to broadcast as normal and it was unclear whether they would soon follow suit or were waiting to see how rigorously the government would enforce the new law.
China has launched a new drive to silence its boisterous microblogging culture by closing influential accounts belonging to writers and intellectuals who have used them to highlight social injustice.
Attention has turned to the country's opinion formers. A recent commentary in the state-run Global Times newspaper warned that Big Vs -- meaning verified accounts with millions of followers -- had become relay stations for online
rumours and accused them of harming the dignity of the law .
State news agency Xinhua claimed the account of He Bing, a well known professor, was suspended because he had purposely spread rumours . Other intellectuals have seen accounts deleted outright.
Thai censorship minister Anudith Nakornthap of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) should not overstep his authority by threatening to shut down websites that carried insulting remarks about Prime Minister
Yingluck Shinawatra by cartoonist Chai Rachawat on Facebook. The commentator compared Yingluck to a prostitute selling away Thailand. He wrote: Please understand. Prostitutes are not evil. They just sell their bodies. But an evil woman sells
National Human Rights commissioner Niran Pitakwatchara said that such threats were a violation of basic rights of Thai citizens and that the right to criticise is a foundation of democracy. The prime minister should instead use criticism as
feedback to reconsider her conduct and improve her work. Niran said:
The government or executive branch should not overstep its authority by forbidding the expression of views by the people in a democracy because this is akin to depriving people of basic rights.
Opposition Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said he was surprised by MICT's threat because it came from a government that had previously insisted that the Computer Crimes Act is undemocratic. Abhisit said the latest move goes against democratic
The MICT minister insisted that he was doing his duty and that he had the authority to do so. He urged anyone who finds offensive messages on the Internet to report them so they could be immediately removed .
Update: Prime Minister supports prosecution of critical commentator
The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry must take action against criticism made online, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said.
People have the right to criticise government policies ...BUT.. .if an accusation goes too far, it is the ICT Ministry's duty to take action, she said.
ICT Minister Anudith Nakornthap gave his assurance Tuesday that his ministry will take action to protect not only the prime minister but others from 'unfair' online criticism.
The Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) has appointed a team of officers to investigate Thai Rath cartoonist Somchai Katanyutanan, known by his pen name Chai Ratchawat, who is in legal hot water after allegedly calling the premier an evil woman
on his Facebook page. The MPB said it will soon summon him to give a statement.
Update: Critical commentator's newspaper office attacked by thugs
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called that Thailand's government must fully investigate this weekend's attack on Thai Rath, the country's largest circulation daily newspaper. The newspaper is where the besieged cartoonist,
Somchai Katanyutanan, works.
According to local reports, four assailants threw firecrackers and two hollow iron balls,the kind used in the French lawn game petanque, at the newspaper's main office in Bangkok early Saturday morning. Glass was shattered in a security
booth and two guards were injured. The perpetrators got away on motorcycles. Police officials said they were checking fingerprints from the crime scene and footage from CCTV surveillance cameras to identify the suspects, reports said.
Saturday's attack comes as Bangkok Metropolitan Police, at the request of Yingluck's government, are investigating Somchai for a Facebook post which referred to Yingluck as an evil woman and likened a speech she made on Thai politics to
selling out national interests, according to reports.
The police complaint, which was filed on May 3, accused him on three counts: insulting an official during an official event, public defamation, and violating the Computer Crime Act, which prohibits the posting of defamatory comments over the
Thammasat University academic Somsak Jeamteerasakul's Facebook account has been suspended for 30 days, leading to widespread criticism on social media.
In the message via Phakjira Slk, Somsak said his account had been suspended because somebody had reported him as having violated Facebook's terms and conditions, adding that he was afraid he would be framed again if he were to register for a new
Meanwhile, the cartoonist has not responded to police summonses after Yingluck sued him for libel, deputy director of the Metropolitan Police Bureau Maj-General Anuchai Lekbamrung said yesterday.
Last year, a law was passed in South Korea to prevent gamers under sixteen from gaming during a six-hour block at night. A year later, the consequences are expanding.
When the law went into effect July 1, 2012, Sony temporarily took down the PSN Store. Sony had hoped to get it back up sometime later in 2012, because it needed to revamp the PSN to comply with the new law. That apparently meant that there
were no new PSN games and no other downloadable content during this blackout.
This week, Sony Computer Entertainment Korea announced that the PSN is finally returning to South Korea starting May 16. However, people under the age of 18 will not be able to use the PlayStation Network at all.
According to Sony's South Korean arm, it was difficult for them to come up with a system that could limit game play time for minors as well as a system to verify parental permission. Thus, the PSN in South Korea will soon be ages 18 and up only
as verified via a credit card.
China's international news propaganda channel is looking to expand into Taiwan. But local authorities have given a strict requirement that CCTV can only be aired in the country if Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA) is allowed to air freely in
Air freely is a pretty tough sell to Chinese authorities, and CCTV-style censored stories don't exactly resonate with the Taiwanese, as South China Morning Post reports:
If the mainland grants our television channels landing rights, then yes, we have basis for discussion but if the other side does not allow us landing rights, then unfortunately, we have no basis for discussion, Lung [Taiwanese Culture
Minister] said on the sidelines of a Legislative Yuan committee hearing.