Journalist to submit ideas to government

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – More than 100 journalists attending a conference titled “Development of Media in Democratic Myanmar” will offer suggestions to the Burmese government on press freedom.

The participants include department heads of the BBC, VOA Burmese services, editors from Mizzima News and domestic journalists and news editors, totaling about 120 journalists.

Mizzima editor Sein Win, a participant at the two-day workshop held at the Rangoon Inle Lake Hotel, said, “Media leaders at home and abroad will offer recommendations to the government on media and press laws, what should be included and what should not be included.”

Media professionals from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines presented papers on Monday.

Tint Swe, the deputy director of the Myanmar Press Scrutiny and Registration Division [the censor board], editor Zay Ya Thu of ‘The Voice’ journal and VOA Burmese Service head Than Lwin Tun also presented papers for discussion. Tint Swe gave the gathered journalists his views on media ethics.

Secretary Ko Ko (Set Hmu) of the Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association (MWJA) said the participation of foreign media professionals added an international dimension to the workshop, which they hope to conduct each year.

Mizzima editor Sein Win said three areas were discussed on Monday: “How can we achieve press freedom, how can we disseminate more information to the people, and the role of journalists in a democratic society. Then we exchanged views on media ethics.” The topic of opening a school to offer journalism degrees was also discussed.

The MWJA and Singapore-based Asian Media Information and Communication co-sponsored the workshop.

The Printers and Publishers Registration Law enacted in August 1962 by then General Ne Win, who took power by a coup, is still in force in Burma along with numerous restrictive speech and press laws enacted by the former military regime.

While many newspapers and journals in Burma no longer have to submit articles to censors prior to publication, media that focus on news, the economy and religion are still required to submit articles to censors prior to publication.

Recent news reports say the current government has prepared a new press law bill to submit to the Parliament that will bring media law closer in line to international standards of free speech and free press.