Last updated: 31 january, 2011 - 16:46 GMT

What Can I Say?

What can be said publicly in countries where politics, tradition and memories of past trauma combine to put limits on free expression?

In partnership with the Australian radio station ABC, the four-part series What Can I Say? explores freedom of speech and democracy in South East Asia.

Presenter Gary Bryson travels to Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore to meet people who are trying to find a voice for their village, their culture or their nation.

Singapore

Singapore's finance district

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Singapore is one of the most lucrative places in the world to do business.

There is not a scrap of litter on the streets and crime rates are low.

Go beyond the surface, though, and you find a system in which the government guards its reputation for stability to the point of authoritarianism and censorship.

How is the government dealing with people who are finding a voice on social networks and the internet?

First broadcast on 9 March, 2011.

Thailand

Smoke and a battered Thai flag

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There are hundreds of community radio stations in Thailand.

Most of them are illegal.

How does subversive media operate in a country in which the national anthem is played in public daily, and great reverence is shown to the king?

What part has community radio had to play in the demonstrations by activists - "red-shirt" or "yellow-shirt" - that occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum?

First broadcast on 2 March, 2011.

Indonesia

Goenawan Mohamad

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"The enemy of media freedom is very nice... a bunch of money in an envelope."

Goenawan Mohamad is a pioneer of an independent media in Indonesia - a move that is proving to be popular among the people.

Twelve years after the fall of the dictator Suharto, democracy in the country is firmly established, but corruption is rife.

Though the media has grown, little of it is independent enough to call the corrupt to account.

A podcast of this documentary will be available shortly.

First broadcast on 16 February, 2011.

Cambodia

Cambodian radio staff look over an edit of a programme

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"Ignoring is better than saying. Even if you know people suffer. You can close your eyes."

Those who survived Pol Pot's bitter regime learned not to make trouble or the consequences would be brutal.

The era of the Khmer Rouge pervades everything in Cambodia and its fledgling media is attempting to address a national psyche which cannot forget, but does not talk about the past.

First broadcast on 23 February, 2011.

South East Asia media freedom

  • A man collects leftover cabbage for resale in Jakarta, Indonesia. Getty
    As the economic and political capital of Indonesia, Jakarta is at the centre of the country's change and growth.
  • Goenawan Mohamad
    Until 12 years ago, its media had to endure the harsh scrutiny of dictator Suharto's regime. During that time Goenawan Mohamad, pictured here, battled for media freedom and founded Tempo magazine.
  • Set of the play Tan Malaka
    Goenawan Mohamad is now directing plays such as Tan Malaka, but media independence is still a problem. It is commonplace for journalists to be offered cash for favourable stories.
  • Cambodian dancers perform during a ceremony marking the 32nd anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge. Getty
    In Cambodia, the fall of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime is marked annually. Many citizens are still affected by the legacy of that era.
  • The faces of prisoners kept under the Khmer Rouge regime
    Under Pol Pot's rule, anyone with an education was a suspected "enemy". If you could read, you could also be tortured and killed. This affects the way media is consumed in the country today.
  • Radio broadcaster Tehri
    In Thailand, Tehri is one of hundreds of community radio broadcasters. She was recently fined 500 baht (£10) for broadcasting.
  • An anonymous block of flats in Chiang Mai
    Community broadcasters in Chiang Mai broadcast from anonymous flats - transmitters can be "hidden" on the top of tall buildings.
  • Singapore skyline
    With all its wealth and prosperity, Singapore represents a sanitised, modern Asia. But are its journalists under pressure to uphold this view rather than to question it?

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