Weekly receives warning from censors

[Original title: Weekly in Burma let off with a warning. Source: Mizzima News]

The Burmese Press Scrutiny and Registration Division has issued a warning to the Thitsar (True News) Journal for an error which referred to democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi as “President” in its 21 August publication.

True News, a weekly news journal frontpaged a headline that read “President Aung San Suu Kyi meets” instead of “Aung San Suu Kyi meets President”.

This is the second time the weekly has come under pressure from the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD) this year. In May, the weekly was suspended for publishing unauthorized information about mobile phones and ordered to sign a pledge to abide by the law. While the PSRD appears to have taken a less harsh measure this time, both the Division and the publication refused to talk about the substance of the warning when contacted by Mizzima.

“In Burmese, if the phrases are in wrong order, the meaning will be incorrect. That’s why we warned them. But, we did not punish the journal,” a PRSD official said, adding that the journal was also warned regarding some differences between its manuscript submitted to the department and the information that appeared in print. Noteworthy is the fact that the interview was the first of a PSRD official with Mizzima, albeit on condition of anonymity.

True News chief editor Myo Nyunt Maung said the error was accidental. “We (were just trying to) make the headline short and compact (as) we (were giving more priority of space to) the picture. We didn’t want the headline to be long and took up too much space.”

A division of the Ministry of Information, PSRD is the de-facto censor to which most publications submit its daily content for pre-publishing vetting. It wields vast powers under the Printers and Publications Registration Law 1962 to bring criminal lawsuits against, suspend, fine, seize and destroy publications.

The decision to issue a warning to True News might be seen as a recent approach by the military-dominated government to soften its restriction on the press. Publications with non-political content were allowed since June to by-pass the mandatory daily content submission to the PSRD; and images of Aung San Suu Kyi that were previously prohibited were allowed in conjunction with her meeting with President Thein Sein. During the latest parliament session on 22 August, the President and Lower House Speaker Thura Shwe Mann spoke about welcoming criticism from the press to an audience which included a group of authorized journalists, and it remains to be seen if there will be more space for the media to report independently.


Mizzima News (http://www.mizzima.com/) is a news organization headquartered in New Delhi, India, run by exiled Burmese journalists. A SEAPA partner, it aims to promote awareness about the situation in Burma and promote democracy and freedom of expression in the country.

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