Mar 122014
 

YANGON (March 9, 2014) – In a speech given in conjunction with the East-West Center’s International Media Conference on “Challenges of a Free Press” this week in Yangon, Myanmar, Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi today addressed press freedom issues in both emerging and developed democracies. (Watch the video of her talk.)

Photo: Allison Wrabel, Missouri School of Journalism

Click on the image to view the video
Photo: Allison Wrabel, Missouri School of Journalism

The democracy advocate, who spent years under political house arrest but is now an elected member of the national assembly, discussed how the media plays a key role in Myanmar’s political transition.

Noting that a long journey lies ahead for the country, she said: “We would like our media to help us in this quest to lay the foundations for a society, for a nation, which is not just for us, today, but for generations to come.”

Without a free press to check those who are in power, she said, “we will not be able to defend the rights and freedoms of the people. But at the same time, this press has to be aware not just of its great power and influence, but of the great responsibility that it bears for the building of a new nation that is centered on the will of the people.”

She cautioned that the press has an inherent obligation to its citizens and should not shirk its duties to the public. “Greater freedom demands greater responsibility,” she said. “It is one of my greatest concerns that people not look upon democracy as a system that gives unlimited rights to them but does not demand equal responsibility back.” Continue reading »

Mar 122014
 

YANGON (March 10, 2014) – U Ye Htut, Myanmar’s deputy minister of information and presidential spokesman, spoke to attendees of a landmark international media conference here on the evolution of the press in his country following ongoing political reforms. “It is the media that empowers citizens to make informed decisions, required to achieve democratic reforms in our society,” he said.

U Ye Htut

Photo by Ninh Pham, Missouri school of Journalism

U Ye Htut said Myanmar is becoming more open to the press, both foreign and domestic. He said more than 20 news agencies have opened up bureaus in the country, and that the first privately owned daily newspapers began appearing on newsstands last year after a more than 50-year absence.

He said Myanmar’s domestic media face a series of challenges, including continued mistrust between the government and the press.

“Most of the government ministries are reluctant to share their information with the press and the public,” he said. He noted his ministry is working with others in the government on developing guidelines for dealing with the media, and he hoped that increased transparency would alleviate that mistrust.

Another challenge, he said, is the scant opportunities for journalism training programs. He said that NGOs and various foreign governments are working with the media in Myanmar to develop training for young journalists to help improve the standard of journalism. Continue reading »