Recent changes in the Burmese media landscape include the publication of draft bills to be submitted to Parliament and more news stories about debates and questions and answers between lawmakers, which began appearing this month in government publications.
Ko Ko Hlaing, a political affairs adviser to President Thein Sein, said, “Describing the bills in newspapers suggests that the Hluttaw [Parliament] has transparency,” according to an article in the Myanmar Times on Monday.
“They are describing what they are doing. In the past, the newspapers only described government notifications and brief news about discussions in the Hluttaw. Now they also give full accounts of discussions,” he said.
Nyan Win, a spokesperson for the National League for Democracy (NLD), attributed the publication of the draft bills to a recent proposal by an NLD representative in Parliament.
“We submitted our proposals more than 10 days in advance [of the Hluttaw session] and the bills appeared in newspapers as a result of our proposal. It is really a good sign,” he said, adding that he was optimistic that more measures to improve transparency in Parliament would be adopted.
Previously, draft legislation was considered confidential until submitted to the Parliament, and even after that copies could be difficult for the media to obtain copies.
In March, Mizzima reported that Burma is undergoing “a three-step” media reform process, according to the minister of information, who spoke at a conference on “Media Development in Myanmar” organized by the ministry and UNESCO.
Minister of Information and Culture Kyaw Hsan said in the first step of the reform, “We have been relaxing restrictions on the press phase by phase. In this step, we are paving the way for domestic periodicals to practice press freedom with responsibility and accountability.”
He called the first step “a learning period in order to work in harmony with the future print media law,” which is now in the process of being drafted by the government.
“Because of these reforms today, 173 journals and 124 magazines can now publish without prior approval from the Press Scrutiny and Registration Department,” he said.
“In the second step, we are dealing with a new print media law that ensures press freedom in accord with the Constitution and replacing the existing Registration of Printers and Publishers Law (1962). In this process, the Myanmar government has been cooperating with regional media organizations since 2008,” he said.
He said the government is expected to approve the new media law in the current Parliament session. A proposed draft of the media law has not yet appeared in the media.