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Kirsten Han (Image from Kirsten Han / Facebook)

New Naratif’s Kirsten Han wins Human Rights Press Awards 2019 for article on fake news bill

Editor-in-chief of Southeast Asian affairs platform New Naratif Kirsten Han has won a Human Rights Press Awards under the Commentary Writing category for her article on fake news bill.

Revealing this on her Facebook on Thursday (16 May), Ms Han thanked Human Rights Press Awards for the honour, as well as Media Professor Cherian George for accepting the award on her behalf at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong.

The award was given to her for her outstanding article titled “Why Singapore’s moves to curb ‘fake news’ may backfire”, which was published on The Washington Post in March 2018.

In her post, she also mentioned two other pieces on the fake news bill that made her a winner – “Asia’s Authoritarians Are Big Fans of Regulating Facebook” and “Singapore: policing social media”.

The articles were published on Foreign Policy and The Interpreter respectively.

Here is her acceptance speech delivered by Professor George:

“I’d like to thank the organisers and judges of the Human Rights Press Awards — it’s a very big honour for me to receive this award. When I wrote my commentaries last year, I was looking ahead at the potential of new anti-“fake news” legislation in my country.

Today, as Cherian accepts this award on my behalf, it’s unfortunate to note that this potential has become a reality. Just a week ago, Singapore’s Parliament passed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill, thus granting the People’s Action Party government the power to decide what’s true and what’s false online.

This is more than a story about a problematic law in a country with miserable press freedom; this is a reality that Singaporean journalists, foreign correspondents, academics, activists and citizens will now have to live with. I can only hope that similar legislation doesn’t find its way to a jurisdiction near you in the future.

And so I’d like to ask all of you present to stand in solidarity with those who have taken a stand to defend both press freedom and freedom of expression, and to keep standing in solidarity with those who will not stop fighting for these rights. Thank you.”

The winners of the 23rd Human Rights Press Awards were announced on Thursday (16 May) in Hong Kong. This annual award is given out to recognise top rights-related reporting around Asia with the aim to beef up respect for people’s basic rights and focusing attention on threats to those freedoms.

The awards are organised by The Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong, Amnesty International and the Hong Kong Journalists Association.