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On 27th of February, the state- run newspapers published a draft press and publication bill but failed to mention which particular organisation had produced this proposed legislation. In the middle of strong criticisms among the journalists who have been demanding a meaningful and genuine freedom of press, the government ministry of Information submitted the bill to the Parliament.  

Before the draft bill has come out, it is understood that the interim press council; formed by the president office and also recognised by the Information Ministry; is given the responsibility to draft a legislation of media ethics, press and news media. The Information Ministry itself assigned this commission to the interim council but the council was totally excluded and ignored when the draft bill came to the light from out of nowhere. The journalists are convincing that it is outrageous misconduct by the ministry for its failure to seek any input from media professionals and the interim council.


On 27th of February, the state- run newspapers published a draft press and publication bill but failed to mention which particular organisation had produced this proposed legislation. In the middle of strong criticisms among the journalists who have been demanding a meaningful and genuine freedom of press, the government ministry of Information submitted the bill to the Parliament.  

Before the draft bill has come out, it is understood that the interim press council; formed by the president office and also recognised by the Information Ministry; is given the responsibility to draft a legislation of media ethics, press and news media. The Information Ministry itself assigned this commission to the interim council but the council was totally excluded and ignored when the draft bill came to the light from out of nowhere. The journalists are convincing that it is outrageous misconduct by the ministry for its failure to seek any input from media professionals and the interim council.

The critics say this draft bill is nothing but a resurrection of notorious Press and Publication Law 1962 to constrict the press freedom and so-called democratic reforms by President Thein Sein’s cabinet is seemed to be going backward. Although the contents of this draft bill are contradicting with the works of the interim council, the Information minister U Aung Kyi assures during the 6th regular session of 1st parliamentary assembly saying that the press freedom will not be threatened and the legislation is only intended to regulate undesirable poisonous literature.

The prominent Burmese news journal The Voice does not agree this justification given by the minister. In its editorial on 11th of March issue, the journal suggests that the irregular way to produce and submit this kind of oppressive legislation to the parliament was just a desperate action of the ministry to maintain their influence over the press and the ministry must feel insecure for their wrongdoings, that they committed in the past, could be exposed if the genuine press freedom is guaranteed.

The attitude of President Thein Sein’s government becomes more questionable since they formed a central administrative board not only to scrutinize the applications of publisher registration process but also to monitor the whole news media sector. By the president’s endorsement, this central board is formed with the different military and police intelligence agencies and other security forces. The board formation has been revealed at the same time as the draft press bill is emerged on 23rd of January. The board organisational structure is exactly the same as the former Press Censor Board which was restructured on 2oth April 2011 before it was revoked.  To see the fact that military intelligence is still deeply involving in the board, no one can argue the military is still interfering the civil administration.

It can conclude that the practice of post- publication censorship is about to implement six months after the pre-publication censorship is cancelled. The parliament dominated by the military backed party Kyant Khine Yae would not be reluctant to pass the bill.
                                                                                                     Ye Mon
                                                                                                   translated by Ko Phyo