Myanmar Media Law Reform A Key Test of Non-Partisan Press-1

*Editor’s note: This is the first of two part stories on Myanmar Media Law.

Calling your bluff seems to mark the dealings between the  censor and journalists as Myanmar set about to reform its Press system as part of efforts to burnish its democratic credentials.

The quasi-democratic government plans to replace its outdated 1962 Registration of Printers and Publishers Law with a new Press charter this year..   

In the first flush of the Myanmar Spring, journalists have already begun to test the limits of the democratic space opening up in the aftermath of the April general election that saw Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League of Democracy party officials entering the opposition. 

$ome journalists like Nyein Nyein Naing have begun to publish their articles without waiting for the censor’s vetting and approval.

“We  print our stories and then sent the copies to the censor. The following day we have to sign a statement to say that we won’t do it again. But I kept promising every week I will never do it again,” said the executive editor of 7 Day New Journal.

She made the comments during a panel session at the East-West Center  conference on New Media Shaping Stories in Asia-Pacific held in Seoul in June, together with Aung Zaw, editor of Irrawaddy magazine and Myint Kyaw, chief editor of Yangon Press International. 
Such acts of defiance show the growing assertiveness of  editors and journalists who still have misgivings about the government’s intentions ahead of the  new Press regime. 
The military-dominated government led by reformist President Thein Sein has said the new  legal code would allow journalists to exercise proper Press freedom and foster the growth of new media in a competitive environment.

The key elements of the Press charter included is a Press Council and Broadcast Council and  a framework for online media.

With the changes to be put in place by 2014, the Information Minister U  Kyaw Hsan  said the country would even have a more vibrant Press than in some neighbouring states, without naming them. 

(To be continued)

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