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Distribution of Bangkok Post and Nation allowed in Burma

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – A controlled distribution of two Thai daily newspapers, The Bangkok Post and The Nation, was begun in Burma on Wednesday.

Two Thai newspapers are now being distributed in Burma.Sources said that a small number of copies for six ministries in Naypyitaw, Rangoon-based foreign embassies and UN offices would not need to be scrutinized by the censorship board but other copies would be checked by censorship board officials before distribution would be allowed.

‘We started the distribution of these two daily papers today. We have done marketing at all hotels except two in Mandalay for distribution of the papers’, said Myo Aung, the owner of Success International Publisher’s Distributors which received a license for the distribution.

The papers will be sent to Burma on Thai Airways International and reached Mingladon airport in Rangoon at about 8:30 a.m.

The importer applied for a distribution license at the  Economics and Commerce Ministry with the consent of the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (censorship board) under the Information Ministry. The license was approved  five days from date of application.

The daily newspapers will be sold for 2,100 kyat (US$ 2.66) per copy.

‘We removed the pages with articles related to Burma which badly criticized the government in the past in distributing other foreign papers when the censorship board told us to do so. We distributed the remaining pages’, said Myo Aung, who started distributing foreign papers in 1994.

He said news stories which severely criticized the government or  information about the demonstrations led by monks in 2007 were not allowed by the censorship board. His company currently distributes about 10 daily newspapers including The Strait Times and Business Time from Singapore and Asahi and Nikkei from Japan.

‘Some of the contents in these two daily newspapers, The Bangkok Post and The Nation, might infringe on the laws in Burma. When the censorship board finds something which cannot be allowed, I must face the problem. At first I was afraid to get into this business but now I think, as a businessman, it’s time to do this business as the censorship regulations and business atmosphere are liberalizing and relaxing’, Myo Aung said.

The readership for foreign daily newspapers is very small, he said.

A spokesperson at the South East Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA) said that distributing the two Thai newspapers was a positive and constructive step in the Burmese media world and it should be welcomed.

‘We must wait and see how the government will treat the foreign daily newspapers in the long run’, he said. ‘We must see how the government views these foreign papers if and when they publish news and commentary which criticizes the ruling government’.

Recently, the junta-backed new government has relaxed and liberalized some censorship rules and regulations and some publications can now publish articles without prior submission to the censors. More news-oriented publications must still run their stories through the censorship board before publication.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 June 2011 22:43 )  

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