||Asean Affairs 10 July 2013
Myanmar Journalists condemn bill on press freedom
The Myanmar Press Council (MPC) has demanded to meet President Thein Sein in a press conference on Sunday, three days after Parliament approved the Printing and Publishing Bill, despite strong condemnation from journalist associations who say that the law aims to curtail press freedoms.
The MPC had earlier submitted its amendments of the original bill drafted by the Ministry of Information for review in Parliament. However, the MPC claims that the amendments have been ignored. The bill was approved by the Lower House on Thursday last week.
"Provisions which the Ministry [of Information] and the MPC had agreed needed amendment were not found in the bill when it was approved. We have to face questions why the MPC had nothing to do with the press bill. So we called a press conference to clarify this issue and demand to meet with the President," said MPC Chairman, Khin Maung Aye.
Media associations have both criticised and opposed the original Printing and Publishing Bill ever since it was introduced saying it was aimed at controlling the media and journalists in a dishonest way.
Eventually the original bill was suspended by Parliament and discussions ensued between the Ministry of Information and relevant media associations on how to amend the bill.
The MPC said that it met with Information Minister Aung Kyi, who promised them they could amend the press bill and any amendments would be submitted to Parliament. However, they claim that none of their amendments were submitted in the final draft.
"The parliament-approved Printing Publishing Bill remains unchanged despite agreeing with the Ministry [of Information] over the provisions to be amended. It is the same as the Ministry drafted," said Kyaw Min Swe, MPC Secretary told Eleven Media.
“We felt that they have broke their promises,” he continued.
The press conference was attended by respected journalists and publishers.
On July 4, the Lower House of Parliament approved Printing and Publishing Enterprise Bill. Myanmar Journalist Association (MJA), the Myanmar Press Council (Interim), Myanmar Journalists Network (MJN), and Myanmar Journalist Union (MJU) strongly rejected the bill and have called to meet the President to discuss an amended draft.
"We have to follow these steps and we will send the letter to the respective committees and the President Office. We will also go to deal with the matters in person. If we don’t get an answer, all the members of the Press Council are going to resign officially,” said Kyaw Min Swe.
"All the media groups and journalists want to have a media law in Myanmar. But the Ministry of Information is taking the advantage of their authority to control freedom of press indirectly" he added.