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Journalists urge new information minister to continue reforms

Information Minister Pe Myint (Photo: DVB)

Senior journalists in Burma are calling on new Information Minister Pe Myint to bring further media reforms under the current National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government.

While acknowledging improvements under the administration of former President Thein Sein, the media industry leaders said there was still a need to amend existing laws to create conditions for greater press freedom.

“The single biggest milestone [under Thein Sein] was the abolition of censorship, which paved the way for the reappearance of private newspapers,” said Myint Kyaw of the Myanmar Journalist Network. “But there’s still no law for the development of media, and still no legal protections for journalists.”

Kyaw Min Swe, the editor-in-chief of Voice Daily, noted an overall improvement in the media sector as a result of efforts to raise the professional standards of journalists.

“The work of journalists has improved, both in terms of quantity and quality, along with the increase in training in journalism skills. We can be proud of the role the media has played in covering conflicts,” he said.

Thiha Saw, the general secretary of Burma’s Press Council, said he expected Pe Myint, a former colleague on the council, to work toward addressing problems faced by journalists.

“As a member of the Press Council, Saya Pe Myint sometimes spoke to the president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces about issues related to journalists. Now that he is information minister, I think he is in a good position to do more,” he said.

“I don’t know how much he will do, or how much he can do, but I hope he will pay more attention to the rights of journalists.”

Between 2012 and 2015, Burma’s Interim Press Council received 180 complaints from journalists. It estimated that around 80 percent of these cases were resolved.

At the same time, however, journalists continue to face imprisonment for doing their job in Burma, the council said.