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Censors lighten their touch on Myanmar's media

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A sentence that the PSRD ordered cut, which was from a Reuters wire story about Myanmar's new parliament, read, “derided as a well-choreographed sham in one of the world's most authoritarian countries when it opened a year ago.”

To be sure, the editor says, “writing about corruption is difficult, as is writing anything criticizing the Constitution.”

Aung San Suu Kyi in pictures

However, articles that would have been unthinkable a year ago, he explains, are making it past the censors, including pieces looking at the international reaction to reforms and detailed reporting on the views of Aung San Suu Kyi, the high-profile opposition leader who will run in an April 1 by-election for parliament. 

The promise of a new media law

Before elections, the parliament is slated to discuss the possibility of a new media law during the coming weeks – the next set of hoped-for changes in a reforming Myanmar.

Until now, none of Myanmar’s recent media reforms have been fortified with actual amendments to existing legislation.

In the small, fan-cooled first-floor office of Myanmar Dhana magazine, editor Thiha Saw says official reform would be a major leap for media. “Hopefully the government will scrap the censor, they have said they will do so.”

A journalist from Myanmar Post, again asking not to be named, said he has concerns about some of the broad outlines of the proposed media law. So far, he says, “it does not make clear what can be published online."

Mr. Thiha Saw says, “We have to play some kind of guessing game, as we don't yet know what will be in the law.”

Publishers say an ideal law would drop censorship, and also allow daily newspapers in Myanmar, where newspapers can publish only once a week at the moment. 

“It will be a challenge for our resources, but one we are eager to face,” says Thiha Saw, who also publishes a weekly news journal called Open News.

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