၂၀၁၅ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲ Irrawaddy.org
ELECTION 2015

Election Commission Warns Against ‘Biased Reporting’

Burma’s Union Election Commission sends a stern message to the media, urging outlets to avoid “biased news reporting” as a Nov. 8 general election nears. 


RANGOON — Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC) sent a stern message to the media on Monday, urging outlets to avoid “biased news reporting” as a Nov. 8 general election nears.

In response to an Oct. 18 report by the BBC Burmese Service, which featured a series of vox pop interviews with locals in Rangoon’s Hlaingtharya Township, the commission issued a statement denouncing a broadcast interview claiming that the ruling party had bribed voters.

The BBC report cited a trishaw driver who said the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) offered radios and cash in exchange for votes.

The UEC said “it assumes a political party would not bribe another party’s supporters while wearing campaign stickers on their foreheads and hoisting the party’s flag on their trishaws,” according to a front-page report in state-owned newspaper The Global New Light of Myanmar on Monday.

Journalists criticized the commission’s tactics, defending the content because of its vox pop style, typified by street interviews with average people about their opinions on topical issues.

Myint Kyaw, a member of the Interim Press Council and director of the Myanmar Journalist Network, told The Irrawaddy that the commission should not have issued a public statement through a state-owned news outlet, claiming that the move ironically appears as an institutional bias toward the USDP.

“There is no reason to announce a statement. This was abnormal, and it seems as though the UEC supports the ruling (USDP),” Myint Kyaw said.

Neither the NLD nor the BBC Burmese Service could be reached for comment on Monday.

Last week, the Myanmar Institute for Democracy published a report on pre-election news coverage in Burma, after monitoring many of the nation’s broadcasters, print and online news outlets.

The report found that almost all sources were imbalanced, but that state-owned media fared the worst in fairly representing multiple perspectives and political parties.