Author: Alexandre Guiraud

MYANMAR: SQUAR – The Next Facebook?

ALEXANDRE GUIRAUD-COINTREAU WRITES – While the once-repressive Myanmar transitions to democratic rule with new freedoms being given, the country is discovering equally new ways to communicate and exchange ideas. One is a new website, also available as a smartphone application, called Squar. The website TechInAsia describes Squar as the first social media site fully available in Myanmar’s official language. According to Forbes magazine, the website aims to replace Facebook in Myanmar, as well as other social media websites, with all the necessary online tools present on one platform. It’s not supposed to act as a new portal for people to simply ‘Like’ and ‘Share,’ but rather a platform to create new content. Its founder, Rita Nguyen, explains that she raised the $500,000 investment that was needed through just three investors, who, she claims, saw it as a great business opportunity and a chance for the population to connect. But in a country where freedom of speech has been an ongoing issue, the problem Squar faces is different from what many would expect. According Nguyen, “Our problem isn’t politics or infrastructure.… It’s teaching people how they can use this technology they’ve never used before.… How do we bring the Internet to a country that has been largely excluded from the international society for over sixty years?” Beyond changing people’s psychology, technology itself remains a hurdle, as the population still struggles to find easy access to the Internet. Connectivity has...

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QATAR: The UAE is NOT Happy

ALEXANDRE GUIRAUD-COINTREAU WRITES – The United Arab Emirates has been insulted and demands the offender stop: Egyptian-born Muslim cleric and head of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated International Federation of Muslim Scholars (IFMS), Yousuf Al Qaradawi, who resides in Doha. According to Gulf Times, the clash began over the topic of the Muslim Brotherhood, as the UAE imprisoned approximately 30 Emiratis and Egyptians for their alleged association with the Brotherhood. Their sentences ranged from three months to five years. Qaradawi regularly appears on Al-Jazeera television and is vocal about his support for the deposed Egyptian president, Mohammed Mursi. On the other hand, the UAE supports the military that overthrew Mursi in July 2013. According to Arab News, during Friday prayers last month, in a live, televised sermon from a mosque in Doha, Qaradawi accused the UAE of, “standing against Islamic government, punishing its leaders and putting them in jail.” Gulf News reported that Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Khaled bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah claimed, “the foreign policy of Qatar is expressed and conveyed only through the official channels of the state. Qatar’s policy is not expressed or conveyed by he media or platforms here and there. What was said by Shaikh Yousuf Al Qaradawi does not reflect the foreign policy of the state of Qatar. We do have full love and respect for our brothers in the UAE.” However, the UAE does not believe that...

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QATAR: The Nation’s Other Face

ALEXANDRE GUIRAUD-COINTREAU WRITES – Two German journalists were detained recently by Qatar authorities for investigating the plight of the country’s migrant workers. Filmmaker Peter Giesel and cameraman Robin Ahne were on a follow up investigation for The Guardian, which had previously claimed such laborers faced a form of modern-day slavery. The two were held for 27 hours before being released. More than a million laborers have been brought into Qatar to help get the country’s infrastructure ready to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. As reported in the Huffington Post, an international labor organization has claimed that thousands of such workers could die during such construction, something officialdom — as reported by Arabian Business — denies. “If some foreign media maligns the image of Qatar and spreads malicious propaganda, it is like crossing the red line,” said one such official, Hussain Al Mulla, an undersecretary at the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry. “So there is a need to investigate and bring the truth before the world.” The broadcasters were released only after their relatives contacted the German embassy in Qatar. When released, the journalists said they’d been told officials were worried their interviews could spark a riot among workers. “And that’s why we got detained and put in jail.” Though the pair said they were treated well, their equipment was confiscated for allegedly filming without government permission, and some...

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MYANMAR: A News Revolution but Social Media Takes the Lead

ALEXANDRE GUIRAUD-CONTREAU WRITES – It was less than a year ago that Myanmar was celebrating the return of print media, but is seems that social media has already made these sources obsolete. With an increase in freedom and an opening of the trade market, the population in Myanmar has been able to acquire cellphones. As a result, smartphone applications and social networking have kept the population informed about domestic and global events. The Voice of Myanmar was the first major newspaper to create an application aiming to keep its nearly six million readers up to date. For those who do not own a smartphone and therefore cannot use such applications, Facebook serves as a primary source of information. Due to its continuous updates, it sometimes proves to be even more interesting than reading the relatively new print media. According to Ayee Macaraig, a Filipino journalist, and Thaung Su Nyein, editor and chief of the 7Days News, “Facebook has become a sort of an aggregator of content, news feeds, not just social sharing. It’s become a really significant platform even for news organizations like ours. We will tend to the Facebook channel first, put breaking news on Facebook before tending to our website.” It is estimated that, in this country of fifty-five million people, nearly eight hundred thousand of them have Facebook accounts. With Myanmar’s market now attracting international phone...

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MYANMAR: Hackers Gonna Hack

ALEXANDRE GUIRAUD-COINTREAU WRITES – In the past few weeks, a group of cyber hackers has made a name for itself across the world. The Myanmar Muslim Cyber Force (MMCF), has been multiplying its attacks, as its Facebook page boastfully confesses. The group refers to its actions as “targeting all racist people, Facebook groups, hacking groups, News Media Groups and etc…” But one of MMCF’s last victims was a Singaporean website and forum called the Kallang Roar. It’s a football forum and website that supports Singaporean soccer players under the age of 23, a team which is playing Myanmar in its next match. This game will be the last chance for the Myanmarese to qualify for the final championship in Asia. This last point could seem like an interesting indication that the targets might be attacked for other reasons than racism. The hackers remain anonymous and announce their cyber attacks through their website and their Facebook page, listing website after website, all the intrusions, and website repossessions they have managed to accomplish. On a given day, this cyber group may hack more than one hundred and fifty websites, ranging from different organizations and website pages, as well as forums, showing the extent of the damage that a group like this one can actually do. Each hacked website is then changed to a presentation page, describing the reason why they were...

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Asia Media Podcasts

Asia Media International Staff

ASIA MEDIA INTERNATIONAL is a student-driven publication of Loyola Marymount University’s Asia Media Center – a vital part of LMU’s Department of Asian and Asian American Studies (AAAS), in an alliance with the university's award-winning Dept.of Political Science, and with the influential Pacific Century Institute.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR and Executive Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief:
Jay Seo

Aashna Malpani, Yi Ning Wong

Savannah Nunez

Katrina Crosby

Staff Writers [Beat]:
Nadia Aljojo
Kate Barkley [Australia]
Murad Basrawi
Alexis Cruz [Qatar]
Truman Daly
Jacqueline Dilanchyan
Bobby Fretz
Ephiphany Hulburd
Diana Jablonski [Malaysia]
Matthew Lange [Asian Profiles,Anime]
Frances Magsalin [Korea/Kpop]
Beth McLaughlin
Rachel Oakes
Hiromi Ochi [Singapore]
Dylan Ramos
Fassa Sar [Film]
Tiara Salvabilla
Gloria Santillan [Korea]
Sebastian Segura [Russia]
Elizabeth Soelistio [Indonesia]
Nicolas Swaya
C.J. Stone [Japan]

Special Correspondent:
Clementine Todorov

Curriculum Coordinator:
Evan Sun

Video Team Editor:
Momokoo (Yuchan) Deng

Emeritus Managing Editors:
Savannah Nunez
= Sabrina Verduzco
= Mary Grace Costa
Kelcey Lorenzo

Contribuing Editors Emeritus:

Robert Dylan Fields
Eriko Lee Katayama
Ryan Lippert
Adrian Narayan [India]
James Royce [Australia]
Miranda Pak [Hong Kong]
Lamiya Shabir [Pakistan & Islam]
Yunfei Suo [China]
Erisa Takeda [Japan Politics]
Ryan Urban [Singapore]

Emeritus Associate Publishers:
Jeremiah Fajardo
Brian Chris Canave
Peyton Cross

Emeritus Executive Editor:
Lexie Tucker

Emeritus Executive Senior Editor and Senior Writing Instructor:
Ben Sullivan

Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Prof Tom Plate


Gareth C.C. Chang, Tom Plate, Jennifer Ramos, Kal Raustiala, Jeremiah Fajardo, Ben Sullivan, Greg Treverton