The Burma News International (BNI), an alliance of mainly ethnic news organizations rejected the controversial draft Printing and Publishing Enterprise Law that was approved by the Lower House of Parliament on July 4. The BNI in its statement released on July 9 said that its strong opposition is because the law has too much control over ethnic media outlets.
Ko Khine Myat Kyaw, an editor who is a member of BNI said that the reason his organization ejected the draft law was that authorities can easily manipulate the law to control ethnic media and when it becomes law, it will affect the development of ethnic media.
Speaking to Karen News, Ko Khine Myaw Kyaw said.
“I have never seen any hints that the current Burma government is supportive of the development of ethnic media. So, with this existing situation, if the law is approved, it will make the situation even worse. That’s why we reject it.”
Ko Khine Myat Kyaw said that as most human right violations and oppressions happened in ethnic States he is concerned that the law will be used to silence the abuses or oppression faced by civilians in ethnic states.
The Lower House [Pyithut Hluttaw] passed the Drafted Printing and Publishing Enterprise Law even though it was strongly opposed by the interim Myanmar Press Council, local media and other media organizations.
The interim Press Council had proposed draft media legislation, but the Ministry of Information rejected the document claiming that there are seventeen unacceptable points.
Ko Khine Myat Kyaw said that as Burma has slowly in its reform process, some exile ethnic media organizations had moved back into the country and some are planning to move back but they will be facing problems if the law is adopted.
Ko Khine Myat Kyaw told Karen News.
“If the drafted law gets approved, it is giving an opportunity to the authorities to control the media. For ethnic nationalities there will be limitation or restriction on their literature and culture.”
The Drafted Printing and Publishing Enterprise Law passed by Lower House Parliament will have to be approved by Upper House Parliament [Amyotha Hluttaw], then passed to the Assembly of the Union [Pyidaungsu Hluttaw] – a joint session of the Lower House [of Representative] and Upper House [of Nationalities] before the President signs off on the bill for it to become law.
Ko Khine Myat Kyaw said that if the draft law is adopted, BNI and its 11 member ethnic media groups will cooperate with national and international media organizations to oppose the law.