Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Press Freedom in Myanmar Finally Augurs In


Just four years ago, Myanmar had ranked very high at 169th among 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders worldwide Press Freedom Index. But thanks to government’s decision on Monday, press censorship is ease out by the Myanmar government, ending decades of stringent and often punishing regulations of authorities there over published materials.

From now on, any written materials aimed for publication will not anymore pass the so-called “pre-scrutinizing” process by the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRB) of the Ministry of Information. However, after publication such materials would still be submitted to the said board in order to ascertain that they did not violate any law or regulations, especially on the content and motivations of written items.

Although the hands of the government in controlling media is still looming and apparent, still this is a great milestone for a country whose press freedom and human rights records had been lambasted all the world over for decades now.

This easing up on censorship is said to be part of the 2011–2012 Burmese democratic reforms, an ongoing series of moves and actions by the Myanmar government towards the path of democracy. This series had started in the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and subsequent dialogues with her, establishment of the National Human Rights Commission, general amnesties of more than 200 political prisoner. Other reforms include institution of new labor laws that allow labour unions and strikes, relaxation of press censorship, and regulations of currency practices.

Probably, Myanmar is feeling the pressure of its ASEAN neighbors as for years now, the regional group had egged on members that are not fully democratized to make reforms in terms of human freedom and social reforms, in consonance with ASEAN general dictum of forum, consultaion and democracy. This would be in line with ASEAN’s aim for further integration with its Vision 2020 program, aiming for further cohesion in terms of political organization and economy.

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