Sunday, 17 November 2019

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Politicians call for media freedom before 2010 polls

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Politicians preparing to contest the 2010 general elections have called for freedom of the media before Burma goes to the polls.

“We are not permitted to publicize our activities in the domestic media even as the 2010 election is drawing close. Now it’s too late to present our views to the people,” Democratic Party Chairman Thu Wei told Mizzima.

Similarly the United Democratic Front Chairman Shwe Ohn said that the role of the media was badly needed as the parties’ stand and opinions need to be publicized. The party was established in 2008.

“Just issuing party statements is ineffective because it will only reach people who are close to us. Speaking through the media will be more effective. But we are not allowed it,” Shwe Ohn said.

The Democratic Party Chairman Thu Wei and Ahmyotharyar Win Naing organized a lecture meeting on October 14 in Bahan Township, Rangoon Division called ‘Review Discussion on Burmese Politics in 2010’, which was attended by over 30 journalists from the foreign and domestic media. However, they were not allowed to report the news.

Moreover there is a law in force, which restricts the assembly of more than five people in Burma. Therefore the parties’ activities are hampered, Thu Wei said.

“As assembly of people is restricted, we have to hold such meetings under the guise of birthday parties and alms offering,” he said.

The restrictions on political parties are touted as the election commission law. The political parties’ registration law is yet to be enacted and promulgated.

In the 1990 general elections, such election commission law and political parties’ registration law were enacted and promulgated one year after polls were announced.

But Thu Wei, who contested in the 1990 election under the aegis of the Democracy Party, said that the restriction on the media is now tighter than in 1990. The laws for the 2010 elections have not yet been officially promulgated.

“Censorship before 2010 should not be in vogue. We’d like to see and hear the voices of those who are working for the election, including government officials. They are doing practical work. This way, they cannot lie to the people and people can scrutinize them,” he said.

An open letter to the junta’s Information Minister was posted on his internet webpage yesterday, which had a critical view and suggestions on weaknesses of the Burmese media in exile and the domestic media.

“State leaders and politicians are owned by the people. There must be transparency in front of the public so the people can object if they don’t like these politicians,” he said. He also said that the exile based Burmese media should be unbiased and should not only report on the opposition forces.

In his open letter, he criticized the domestic media also, saying that they were reporting only figures and facts but not news which made their reporting boring and uninteresting for the people.


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