Minister defends Suu Kyi over criticism on media access

Information Minister U Pe Myint had defended State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi over criticism from journalists that she does not hold enough news conferences.

“She has met the press on several occasions. For example, after meeting dignitaries she has given small press conferences, nothing huge,” Pe Myint said in an interview published online by the Nikkei Asian Review on June 14.

Asked about the new government’s apparent reluctance to communicate with local media and complaints by journalists about a lack of transparency, Pe Myint replied: “Over the past month, I agree with you.”

He added that the transfer from the previous government had been long and ministries had chosen their spokespersons. “We are now going to launch the 100-day plans and ministers will not be silent as in the transition period,” he said.

The aim of the Information Ministry’s 100-day plan was to be more effective in informing the public about the activities of all ministries, Pe Myint told the NAR.

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“Previously, ministries just gave out information, but we do not want one-sided relationships. We see the media as occupying the space between the government and the public,” he said.

“We will not only inform the public, which voted for us, but listen to what people want to say to the government.”

Pe Myint also called for a review of press laws and other legislation that had been used to detain and jail journalists.

The media in Myanmar does not have enough freedom of expression and the situation needs to improve, he told NAR.

“There is improved freedom of expression but … there have been some arrests and reporters sent to jail. I think this relates to the existing law as well as old enforcement practices,” Pe Myint said.

“We need to review laws that are incompatible with freedom of expression for possible amendment or revocation,” he said, adding that press laws also needed to be reviewed.

“Journalists and their associations must talk to the legislature and judiciary to provide a better understanding of the nature of journalism.”

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