New Interim Press Council Formed

By Nyein Nyein 17 September 2012

For the second time in little over a month, Burma has formed an interim press council as part of its recent moves to relax government controls over the media.

The new 27-member press council, about two-thirds of whose members are journalists, was formed on Monday in Rangoon following two weeks of discussions between journalists’ groups and Information Minister Aung Kyi.

Three groups—the Myanmar Journalists Association (MJA), the Myanmar Journalists Network and the Myanmar Journalists Union—took part in the talks with Aung Kyi, who was named information minister on Aug. 27.

The new press council will be headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Khin Maung Aye, who held the same position in the 20-member Myanmar Core Press Council that was formed on Aug. 9. That body was abandoned after it was shunned by journalists, who felt it was too restrictive.

The deputy chairman of the new press council is respected journalist and writer Maung Wuntha, who is also a chairman of MJA.

Aung Kyi, who attended today’s meeting to form a new press council, said he believed it would be a more independent body that would serve the needs of journalists. In his meetings with journalists earlier this month, Aung Kyi told them they could form a new council according to their own wishes.

Ko Ko, a member of the interim press council, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that “it is the first all-inclusive council,” and will serve the interests of journalists well.

The new press council will draft a code of conduct and will also be invited to offer its input in rewriting a draft media law proposed by former Information Minister Kyaw Hsan.

Besides journalists, the press council will also include publishers, academics, judges and legal experts.

Associated Press reporter Aye Aye Win and 88 Generation leader Ko Ko Gyi, whose names were among those on a list of possible members, will not join the council because of their busy schedules.

The council plans to hold its first meeting soon to discuss its code of ethics and the media law, as well as other matters such as providing training and handling disputes.