Press council to submit media bill directly to Parliament




Myanmar Press Council (Interim) will submit a media bill directly to the Parliament following disagreement with the Ministry of Information over revision of the draft version.

The Press Council made the decision to submit its version of the media bill through a MP at the meeting with two deputy ministers and the Lower House’s Sports, Culture, and Public Relations Development Committee on July 24 after the deputy ministers decline to state clearly whether or not the Ministry will submit the bill to the Parliament.

After both parties discussed about the Printing and Publishing Enterprise bill, which was drafted by the Ministry, and the media bill, which was drafted by the press council, they agreed on 51 provisions but dispute over 17 provisions continues.

“Our bill includes 17 provisions that the Ministry of Information does not like. That’s why we’ll be submitting it directly through a MP,” said Zaw Thet Htwe, member of the press council.

“There used to be only one law for the media. The press council was commissioned to amend this [law]. After we were commissioned, the Ministry of Information submitted another one so there are two laws. They say they have separated this issue into half. It’s like diving a coin into a half. They are separating something that cannot be divided into two,” said Pe Myint, another member of the press council.

U Pe Myint said that the press cannot do anything without publications so the Ministry is restricting press freedom in their press bill.

Ye Htut, one of the two deputy ministers, said the conflict between the Ministry and the press council is due to longing and anxiety. While the Ministry is anxious as the country passes through a nascent reform, the press longs for freedom as they have lived under oppression.

In response to Ye Htut, Kyaw Min Swe said:”A law cannot be drafted based on longing and anxiety because [the country] is changing from one system to another. It’s typical to have doubts and suspicions on each other during this period. Problems will arise if ethics are drafted with these suspicions. In order to have a flourishing democracy, the law has to be drafted without these [suspicions]. If the law was drafted with doubts and suspicions, there could be violence, problems, and protests after it has been enacted.”

Kyaw Min Swe added that the media bill will be submitted to the Parliament through the Sports, Culture, and Public Relations Development Committee within a few days.

Thura Aye Myint, chairman of the Sports, Culture, and Public Relations Development Committee, said the committee accepts the media bill and will quickly submit it to the Parliament.

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