News / Asia

Burma Media Law Seen as a Step Backward

Journalists participate in a protest along the streets of Rangon after two weekly journals were banned indefinitely for publishing several stories without the consent of the local censorship board, Aug. 4, 2012.
Journalists participate in a protest along the streets of Rangon after two weekly journals were banned indefinitely for publishing several stories without the consent of the local censorship board, Aug. 4, 2012.
Danielle Bernstein
Burma's new media law has come up for debate before parliament. Some rights groups say the law is a significant step backward for a country that only recently banned censorship.

The proposed law could make life more difficult for journalists.  Among other things, the legislation bans material that violates the country's constitution and incites unrest.  It also puts the Information Ministry's Registration Department in charge of determining violations.

The U.S.-based rights group the Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned the law, saying it amounts to a new censorship regime that would require of journalists to censor themselves, instead of pre-publication censorship. Shawn Crispin is the Southeast Asia representative for CPJ. He says the vague nature of the law's language is of particular concern.

"The Ministry of Information will supervise a new committee which will effectively be charged with supervising the media. And, if they deem that these vague provisions are violated, they will be empowered to punish and sanction publications including through the use of bans, which is something we regularly saw under the pre-publication censorship regime," said Crispin. We don't think that the state should have that role as to supervising what is and what isn't ethical journalism."

Crispin says the draft law was disappointing, after the ministry had conducted so many consultations and taken so many precautions to draft a liberal law that considered the needs of journalists and publishers.

Ministry of Information spokesperson Ye Tint tells VOA the new law is an improvement on the old one because there is no censorship, only registration. He says the law is up to international standards because it safeguards national security. And he adds that the Myanmar Press Council need not be concerned with the law, because it affects only publishers.

"This law is not related to the press council.  It is only for our ministry. Press council must drafting law for the press law," noted Ye Tint.

Debate on the legislation comes just a month before private newspapers in Burma will be allowed to publish dailies for the first time in nearly five decades.

Ross Dunkley, Editor in Chief and Publisher of the Myanmar Times, says he has some concerns. But he says the parliamentary process is there to identify and eradicate problems in the law.

"I encourage the government for introducing it, but let's see the debate happen and let's throw out all the bad things about the proposal, and keep the good things and then I think that we're going to get there," stated Dunkley.

Dunkley says his paper is on track to begin daily publication on April 1st.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid