The Myanmar Press Council (Interim) can submit its media law to Parliament in parallel with the government’s information ministry-drafted printing and publishing bill, deputy minister Ye Htut said.
The deputy information minister disclosed the information during a meeting with members of Myanmar Printers and Publishers Association and Myanmar Publishers and Distributors Association in Yangon Saturday.
“The press council can send us its drafted media law as they have promised earlier. Otherwise, they can also forward it to Parliament directly. They have the right to do so, according to the constitution. If the government-drafted printing and publishing draft law and their media law are to be submitted simultaneously, it is up to the Parliament’s Joint Bill Committee. And the decision will be made by Parliament,” Ye Htut said.
The government formed a 29-member interim press council on September 17 last year to draft a media law in cooperation with the information ministry. The press council planned to submit the law to Parliament during its upcoming session.
“The printing and publishing bill is now in the hands of the joint bill committee. This draft law will not stop as some people say. Before a forthcoming parliamentary session of the Union Assembly, the committee can reconsider the draft law. Now, those in attendance at the meeting can give suggestions by April 20,” Ye Htut said.
While the interim press council is drafting a media law, the Ministry of Information publicised a printing and publishing bill on February 27 in state-run newspapers. But the draft law drew severe criticism from journalist, civic and political organisations for the inclusion of points that imply to restrict press freedom. They also demanded the withdrawal of the draft law.
Myanmar Printers and Publishers Association chairman Dr Tin Tun Oo, who is a major supporter of the information ministry-drafted press bill, said “I am happy with the current press bill because it gives lesser restrictions than the 1932 and 1962 press laws. As for me, I want the press bill to be sent to Parliament through the joint bill committee. When the law comes into force, I will respect and follow it as a duty-conscious citizen.”
Dr Tin Tun Oo is the publisher of Pyi Myanmar News Journal. He and Khin Moe Moe bought 51 per cent shares of Myanmar Consolidated Media, which publishes Myanmar Times Journal, in December 2005.
Dr Tin Tun Oo used to run but failed the elections in 2010 representing Pazundaung Township Constituency in Yangon.
No representative from Myanmar Journalists Association, Myanmar Journalists Union, Myanmar Journalists Network as well as the interim press council, was invited in the Saturday meeting. They represent media people and journalists.
“When it comes to the mass media, news and messages will be valuable if we send them to the people and accept their feedbacks. So I want to suggest that if media-related laws are drafted, they should be sent to the press council,” said Pyone Cho from ’88 Generation Peace and Open Society, who attended the meeting.