Media Law to Give ‘100 Percent Press Freedom’



Burma’s new media law is currently in its second draft stage and due for release sometime this year, Burma’s Minister of Information Kyaw Hsan has confirmed.

Kyaw Hsan spoke with The Irrawaddy founder Aung Zaw for an exclusive interview in Rangoon this week, and explained that the new media law would not be copied from any other nation but be based upon real events in Burma’s past and present.

“We learned about media law from different countries including Asean nations, America and India—which is a flourish democracy. But we did not copy from them.

“There are many things learned from the history of our country and we can take a lot of experience from this. We have written our new law combining our experiences of the past, present events and the law of international community which is appropriate for us,” he said.

Kyaw Hsan went on to ensure that all media outlets in the country would enjoy “100 percent press freedom,” but would have to abide by the law.

He added that his administration continues to work on broadcasting legislation and the legal requirements to run online publications, and both will be revealed at the same time as the new media law.

Burma has acquired more room for press freedom after the government underwent a series of political reforms. However, the Burmese media still has to pass articles by the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division until the new media law comes into force.

Meanwhile, Naypyidaw has allowed the international press access to the country and even the exiled Burmese media has been granted visas to visit. However, the authorities are still limiting the amount of time permitted inside to around one week.

Kyaw Hsan said that he will explain the policies governing the Burmese state-run media to the public in order to reform the institution. Then Burmese people can analysis and criticize the policy and let the authorities know what they think as, “the voice of the people is very important to reform the country.”

“The state media will reform independently and will take on a responsibility and duty similar to the private media—even the state media will write news stories based on criticism from the public in the future,” he said.

When The Irrawaddy asked Kyaw Hsan whether he belongs to the “hardliner” group within President Thein Sein’s nominally civilian administration, he replied that he was “a pragmatist whose priority is have rules and regulations.”