RANGOON — A radio station linked to Burma’s besieged Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann will return to the air on Wednesday at 6pm after being abruptly shut down by the government last week.
Cherry FM, which is operated by Shwe Mann’s daughter-in-law, was shut off without warning last Friday after the Speaker was suddenly removed from his post as chairman of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) amid a leadership purge.
The station’s general manager Than Htwe Zaw confirmed on Wednesday that he had reached a written agreement with the Ministry of Information, which demanded that the station “guarantee” neutrality in the lead-up to a general election in November.
Pending passage of a new broadcasting law, all of Burma’s radio stations are required to partner with state-owned Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV) under the ministry.
While all of the country’s stations were given instruction of a pre-election media code of conduct, Cherry was the only one required to sign a written agreement, he said.
The sudden closure of Cherry FM, which is one of about 10 semi-governmental radio stations in Burma, prompted theories of a government-led gag order against his allies.
Minister of Information Ye Htut told The Irrawaddy earlier this week that recent turmoil within the ruling party, which sent shockwaves through the political establishment, led the ministry to “doubt” the station’s impartiality.
Two USDP newspapers, the Union Daily and Leader Weekly journal, were also abruptly shut down and have not yet resumed publication.