<<<From the Facebook of “Committee for Freedom of Press (Myanmar)” - “A group of journalists preparing for 4 August 2012 protest in Yangon”.
Burma or Myanmar Government released its Notification No. 61/2012 on 9 August 2012 stating the ‘Formation of Myanmar Core Press Council’ (MCPC) which consists of 20 members, The New Light of Myanmar newspaper said Friday.
The council key tasks are to protect media persons, to take responsibility for compilation of journalism moral principles or code of ethics and to settle press disputes in accordance with rules and regulations morality under Sub-Section (A) of Section-354 of the Constitution.
It also says that media disagreements before the emergence of Press Media Law will be permitted to express and publish freely their convictions and opinions, if not contrary to the laws. Press Media Law will be approved by the Union Parliament in due course.
According to the state-run media, Myanmar Core Press Council has been formed with the following persons:-
(1) U Khin Maung Aye (Retd Supreme Courte Judge) Chiarman
(2) Dr Aung Tun Thet (Retd Principal) Vice -Chairman-1,United Nations System Staff College
(3) Dr Khin Aye (Maung Khin Min-Danubyu) Vice -Chairman-2,(Retd Myanmarsar Professor)
(4) Dr Myo Thant Tin (Literati) Member
(5) Dr Tin Hlaing (Boe Hlaing) (Literati) Member
(6) U Khin Maung Lay (Pho Thaukkya) Member
(7) U Soe Thein (Maung Wuntha) Member
(8) U Thiha Saw (Thiha Saw) Member
(9) U Aung Hla Tun (Reuters) Member
(10) U Tin Hlaing (Ledwintha Saw Chit) Mmeber
(11) U Khin Maung Tun (Khin Maung Tun-Lanmadaw) Member
(12) U Ohn Maung (Myinmu Maung Naing Moe) Member
(13) Daw Cho Cho Tin (Ma Sanda) Member
(14) Dr Tin Tun Oo Member
(15) Dr Tha Tun Oo (Today Media) Member
(16) U Myint Maung Member
(17) U Maung Maung Myint Aye Member
(18) U Ko Ko (Ko Ko-Setmu Tekkatho) Secretary
(19) U Maung Maung Oo (Hein Latt) Joint Secretary-1
(20) Dr Kyaw Zaw Naing (Copy Rights Lawyer) Joint Secretary-2
The statement also expresses the duties and responsibilities of members of the core press council. They are to safeguard freedom of press in accordance with the law; to supervise the expressions of those from the press field so that their expressions are not detrimental to the interest of the people, the dignity of the State and national sovereignty; to settle disputes and complaints among those from the press field and those inside and outside the press field in line with rules and regulations and code of conduct; to act as a bridge among the people, the government and the press; to compile and prescribe the press ethics; to train and educate those from the press field so that they can be endowed with journalism and press ethics; to try to improve capacity and standards of those from the press field; to scrutinize imported periodicals and publications so that they are in conformity with the national interest.
Authorized powers of members of the core press council can be found as well in the Notification No. 61/2012. They need to compile regulations and procedures of the Press Council and they are allowed to do the tasks freely for development of the press field.
They have to establish connections with the international organizations. They are sanctioned to address the row of newsmen in collecting and writing news. They have power to summon and coordinate with newsmen who have breached journalism ethics.
As said by the Notification, they can also use the above-mentioned authority in line with evidence act, penal code, code of civil procedure and Tort. The core members of press council are exceptionally allowed to enjoy immunity from criminal or civil prosecution for they are exercising duties and authority vested in them unintentionally.
The Notification also says that they are advisers to the government concerning press affairs. Moreover, they have the power of taming and taking actions as necessary with the journalists who breached journalism ethics. Moreover, the council members have authority to coordinate with government departments concerned through Union Government over matters related to the Press Council. It also says that members are allowed to carry out training on national politics for development of press and human resources.
But, on the other hand, the ‘Organization Committee for Myanmar Journalists Association’ released a statement dated 10 August objecting some points that are not proper to the press council. It says that “Duties and responsibilities of MCPC” and “Authorities of MCPC” not only failed to protect the ‘Rights of Journalists’ but also systematically limited the media personnel’s routine careers.
If those inappropriate rules and regulations are not removed, they will not support the MCPC, the statement said.
On the same day, the Eleven Media Group (EMG) also released their position towards the ‘Formation of Myanmar Core Press Council’. EMG’s criticism of the core press council is that the members are former core executives of junta-backed Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association (MWJA) who are pro-government and have business interest in the media sector. Appointing them as press council members constitutes a conflict of Interest.
EMG also criticized an item under ‘Duties and responsibilities of MCPC’ as an unacceptable. It says - ‘To supervise the expressions of those from the press field so that their expressions are not detrimental to the interest of the people, the dignity of the State and national sovereignty’- is not only a veto on publications but also a ban on freedom of speech.
A journalist who wish to remain anonymous said that majority of journalists in the country do not support the MCPC because the body was formed without prior discussion with media professionals and journalists.
“The worst is that most members are not appreciated in view of the general public due to ethical backgrounds,” he made a short comment.
Several dozens of journalists wearing black T-shirts decorated with the slogan ‘ Stop Killing Press’ launched a protest in Yangon and Mandalay last week to defy the suspension of two journals, amid fears that press scrutiny bureaucrats are returning to restore draconian censorship laws.