||Asean Affairs 18 July 2013
Media Freedom and Myanmar’s Reforms
While the Interim Press Council and journalists have decried the government’s new Printing and Publishing Enterprise Law, recently approved by the Lower House of Parliament, Mizzima encourages the stakeholders to settle their differences with continued dialogue. Mizzima would like to see both sides emphasize the emergence of a Media Law which could help drive the development of Myanmar media today.
The new law—a substitution for the "1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Law"—should accompany the freedom, duties and responsibilities of the stakeholders, and be a driving force for the development of the Myanmar media.
The legislators should not seek to tighten control over the media, while media professionals should take responsibility and accountability for their reporting as freedom develops. Mizzima believes the people deserve "the right to information" and that this should not be strangled by regulations.
While Myanmar continues on the path to reform, legislators should be aware that having a good start is just as important as the end result. The media stands as a bridge between the government and the people: freedom of expression plays an important role in strengthening both the state and society.
The governing authority will be informed of what the people need through the media, vis-a-vis the government can inform the people about their activities and the objectives of the state though the media. This fact should not need to be overtly or covertly placed in the legislation.
Media reforms play an important role in the comprehensive Myanmar reform process and the international community has been closely watching this development, with many observers using media freedom as a benchmark of genuine reform. Media freedom affects not only the media, but also acts as an image of the whole reform initiative. Mizzima believes delicate measures are needed in the transition and the new legislation in the reform process, including the Media Law. It should contribute to the interests of the state and its citizens.
The government should be supportive of media freedom, standing hand in hand with media professionals, to maintain the image and the pride of the Myanmar transition. Mutual understanding between the state and its people will instill not only authenticity, but pride, in Myanmar’s stride towards democracy.
Written by Mizzima News