Information Minister Pe Myint at a media seminar in Rangoon presented a plan to transform the state media as a communication platform between the government and the people, and urged private agencies to contribute in an effort for media development in Burma.
Pe Myint met with media representatives at a seminar on “Policy Dialogue” at the Kandawgyi Palace Hotel in Rangoon on 15 May.
“I thank everyone for candidly speaking out about your wishes and opinions. I noticed two main opinions here — one suggesting that the Ministry of Information should no longer exist and the other questioning what the ministry can do, what role we can take for media development in Burma,” said Pe Myint.
“If you analyse this, it’s like someone wants to climb up and sit on this tree branch that is the Ministry of Information while at the same time they want to chop it off,” he said. “I think the best option is to have us all sit together on this branch and work together — brainstorming and suggesting ideas for development of the media environment, strengthening and expanding this branch.”
Under Burma’s previous governments, the Ministry of Information was resented by private media groups for mainly serving as a tool to block freedom of information and monopolising the media industry through unfair competition and taking advantage of government assets.
Kyaw Min Swe, the chief editor of the Voice Daily newspaper, said: “Fortunately for us, we were allowed to vote freely in the democratic elections in 2015 and elected the party of our preference to take the government office. But unfortunately, this one Ministry of Information that we resent is still in place. It is a type of ministry inappropriate in a democratic country.”
Media observers suggested, based on what Pe Myint said at the event, that the NLD government may currently have no plan to privatize the state media and will continue to maintain the same grip on the media as the previous military-backed government.