Burma sets up a brand new Press Council
Burmese Government released its Notification No. 61/2012 on 9 August 2012 stating the ‘Formation of Myanmar Core Press Council’ (MCPC) which consists of 20 members, The New Light of Myanmar newspaper said on 10 August.
The Notification said that the MCPC’s key tasks are to protect media officials, to take responsibility for the compilation of journalistic code of ethics and to settle press disputes in accordance with rules and regulations laid out under Sub-Section (A) of Section-354 of the Constitution.
It also stated that, before the emergence of Press Media Laws, members of the media will be permitted to freely express and publish their beliefs and opinions, providing they are not contrary to the law. The Press Media Laws will be approved by the Union Parliament in due course, Notification No. 61/2012 says.
But, in contrast, the ‘Organizing Committee for Myanmar Journalists Association’ released a statement dated 10 August objecting that some of the points were unacceptable for the press council. It says that “Duties and responsibilities of MCPC” and “Authorities of MCPC” not only failed to protect the ‘Rights of Journalists’ but also systematically limited the media personnel’s routine careers.
On the same day, the Eleven Media Group (EMG) also released their position towards the ‘Formation of Myanmar Core Press Council’. EMG’s criticism of the core press council was that the members were former core executives of the junta-backed Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association (MWJA), who were pro-government and involved in business benefit in the media sector. Appointing them as press council members constitutes a conflict of interest.
The majority of journalists in the country did not support the MCPC, because the body was formed without prior discussion with media professionals and journalists. The worst portion was that most members were not appreciated in consideration of the general public due to their moral backgrounds.
However, on August 27, Burma’s President Thein Sein has appointed Aung Kyi as new Information Minister in the cabinet reshuffle. Aung Kyi was the former Labor Minister, who also served as the previous military junta’s liaison with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi while she was under house arrest. The media circles has an optimism that the new Information Minister will help pave the way for true press freedom in Burma. Within a week of his appointment he had met many important journalists and media-related persons in order to study the situation on the ground.
After meeting with reliable media personnel, including Myanmar Journalists Association (MJA), the Myanmar Journalists Network (MJN) and the Myanmar Journalists Union (MJU), the new minister gave green light to reform the MCPC.
On 17 September, a transitory press council has been shaped at the Chatrium Hotel in Yangon. It is emerge as a substitution for MCPC to loosen up government’s control over the media and press freedom. In fact, this newly established press council comes into view since the majority of media personnel have rejected the formation of MCPC.
The new 29-member press council has chosen retired Supreme Court Judge Khin Maung Aye as the chairman, Yangon Press International (YPI) said. He was the same chairman who was appointed in the previous 20-member MCPC that was formed on August 9.
According to YPI, the deputy chairman of the new press council is well-known journalist and author Maung Wuntha, who is the chairman of MJA. Kyaw Min Swe of The Voice Journal has been chosen as the secretary and the deputy secretary is Nan Kalyar Win from the Fame Media. Other prominent members of the new council are Ko Ko Gyi from the 88-Generation Students Group and Aye Aye Win from the Associated Press.
There are economists, lawyers, and representatives of writers, representatives of journalists, representatives of trade unions, representatives of publishers, representatives of broadcasters and representatives of civil societies in the newly formed press council.
The new Information Minister Aung Kyi also attended the meeting concerning creation of a new press council. The media circle has an expectation that the new Information Minister will support true press freedom in Burma. Within a few weeks of his appointment he had met many important journalists and media-related persons in order to learn the creation of a new press council in line with the wishes of the media workers.
The latest press council has been formed by referencing international standard of ‘Co-regulatory System’, as mentioned on the website of the Ministry of Information.
- Asian Tribune -