Myanmar media groups say draft legislation marks a return to censorship




Media organisations, including the Myanmar Press Council, have unanimously objected to the Ministry of Information’s draft press bill that was published in state-run newspapers on February 27.

The draft legislation violates the right to free publication guaranteed by Article 354 (A) of the Constitution, they say.

They called the draft legislation dishonest, saying its eight chapters and 28 sections aimed to manipulate the media and control printing and publishing.

The draft legislation marks a return to the censorship of the past, they said, explaining that it requires those who want to print, publish and open news agencies to register their business with a registration officer appointed by the ministry who has the right to suspend or cancel the publication permit.

Aung Kyi, who became Information Minister on August 27 last year, revoked the Myanmar Core Press Council and temporarily formed the Myanmar Press Council. The minister said that the interim press council and his ministry would jointly draft the press law.

The publication of the draft legislation came as a shock to the interim press council, which is drafting a separate media law. Media organisations responded by releasing a statement objecting to what they described as a one-sided press law. Continue reading “Myanmar media groups say draft legislation marks a return to censorship”

Myanmar: Press bill falls far short of international law and would leave press open to abuse-BURMESE /ENGLISH

The press bill published on Wednesday in state-run media is deceitful, undermines the right to free expression, gives the appearance that the information ministry has power over the drafting of the media law and revives the draconian 1962 Press Act, which allowed journalists to be imprisoned for up to seven years, Eleven Media Group said today in a statement calling on journalists and their associations to denounce the draft law.

The press bill released by the Ministry of Information interfered in the drafting process currently underway by the Press Council, which was formed by the government with the task of drafting the law, the statement said.


Eleven Media called on all media groups and journalists to strongly oppose the bill published in state-run media yesterday and to only accept the media law currently being drafted by the press council.

For the first time since 1996, Burma is not among the nations jailing journalists

  • For the first time since 1996, Burma is not among the nations jailing journalists. As part of the country’s historic transition to civilian rule, the authorities released at least 12 imprisoned journalists in a series of pardons over the past year.
  • The number of journalists held on anti-state charges, 132, is the highest CPJ has recorded, although its proportion of the overall tally, about 57 percent, is consistent with surveys in recent years.


Burma_Myanmar: 1962 press act still looms over Myanmar media

Although the Myanmar government has lifted its pre-publication censorship covering news journals, the media still needs to be wary of the 1962 Press Act, media industry insiders said.

“There are still people making ‘offside traps’ in the media. The 1962 law is still there. So, we need to be cautious all the time,” said Dr Than Htut Aung, chairman and CEO of Eleven Media Group.

He was referring to the 1962 Press Act that imposes a maximum seven-year jail term for journalists who violate it.

He warned that there are people in the government who want to set back the reform process by trying to control the media.

“[The media] need to work together to deal with the problems. We need to watch over our journalists and the editorial teams so that they do not make any ‘offside’”, he added.

The Ministry of Information has recently instructed the Press Council to take action on sport news journals that encourage gambling like ‘spread betting’. This has caused a media war on Facebook.

“We have urged the Press Council to make necessary rules and restrictions for sports journals and report the spread betting,” Deputy Information Minister Ye Htut posted on Facebook.

But Kyaw Min Swe, secretary of the Press Council, claimed that the body has not received any report from the ministry or Ye Htut.

He struck back at the ministry for the rules that affected the press scrutiny board?

Some of the media was charged by the previous censorship board.

Chit Win Maung, a member of the press council and chief editor of a Tat Lan Journal, disagreed with the ministry’s instruction.

“Although press censorship no longer exists, it’s as if the Ministry of Information is trying to control us,” said Chit Win Maung.

“The 1962 Press law still exists so we can be sued anytime. While the press council is trying to strength the fourth pillar, I feel that this is not a form of cooperation but a kind of hindrance,” said Zaw Thet Htwe, another member of the press council.

Since the new government took office last year, it has introduced a series of reforms including the lifting of media censorship. Prior to this, it imposed a pre-publication censorship covering newspapers.

The Ministry of Information is in the process of redrafting the media law with the press council and it is uncertain whether the new draft bill could be passed in the ongoing parliamentary session, which resumed on October 18.

Burma,s notorious Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD) Still Alive and Censoring

Despite the recent relaxation of some of its media restrictions, Burma’s notorious Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD) is flexing its muscles once again, refusing to allow the publication of certain remarks made by pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday and rejecting news reports covering separate protests by monks in Mandalay and farmers in Rangoon, according to the managing editor of a Rangoon-based journal.

“Some statements made by Daw Suu, such as ‘There are no political prisoners in a country which has the rule of law’; ‘The development and peaceful lives of the people is more important than becoming the chair of Asean’; ‘We all know that there’s no freedom and balance in the country’s judicial pillar’; and other such quotes were rejected for use in the journal,” said the managing editor, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The statements were made by Suu Kyi on Monday at a press conference held at the headquarters of her National League for Democracy (NLD), which marked the one-year anniversary of her release from house arrest.

Suu Kyi mentioned the PSRD, Burma’s censorship board, at the press conference as well. She said she wrote a series of a travel stories for the journal Pyithu Khit (People’s Age), and although two of the stories were published, the PSRD banned material about the NLD legal team in the third story and so she chose not to publish the article and said it will therefore not be possible for her to continue writing these types of travel pieces. Continue reading “Burma,s notorious Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD) Still Alive and Censoring”