A ‘special’ conference convened in Rangoon on Saturday to reform the Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association (MWJA).
Information Minister Kyaw Hsan oversaw an “emergency” meeting at Rangoon’s Nursing University, where he told MWJA members and media representatives that the ministry hoped to help shift the country’s media landscape in line with concurring political reforms.
“The emergency conference concluded with the formation of three committees that would undertake the formation of three associations: the Myanmar Writers Association, Myanmar Journalists Association and the Myanmar Publishers Association,” said Ko Ko, editor of Yangon Times and secretary of the MWJA.
Ko Ko said the three associations would be established officially within three months. The move aims to create more efficient, civil associations that will cater to specific media trades rather than lumping all the publishing sectors into one massive organisation.
Burma’s President Thein Sein during his speech marking the one year anniversary of the new government earlier this month said “the formation of a National Press Council is under way so that the media sector – the fourth estate – can ensure liberty and accountability [by providing a system of] checks and balances system in accordance with democratic practices.”
Talks of reforms and relaxing censorship practices comes after the government invited representatives from exile and ethnic minority media outlets to participate in conference to discuss developing the country’s media sector.
“On one hand, there will be reforms, but on the other hand, there are uncertainties,” said Toe Zaw Latt, DVB’s Chiang Mai Bureau Chief.
While the new media law has not been passed or reviewed by the public, the government continues to send signals that it’s ready for a more open media environment within the country.
According to documents obtained by DVB, as of 22 March, the Ministry of Information had granted 40 visas to foreign correspondents to cover the 1 April by-elections.