Friday, January 28, 2011

Coverage of Parliament by journalists in doubt

Friday, 28 January 2011 20:26 Ko Pauk

New Delhi (Mizzima) – With only three days remaining before the opening of the People’s Parliament and National Parliament, no one is certain if foreign and local journalists will be allowed to cover the proceedings of the assemblies.

The first parliamentary sessions will be held in Naypyidaw on Monday.

Aye Aye Win, a writer for The Associated Press in Rangoon, told Mizzima that journalists were waiting for a yes or no from the military regime, and the longer the wait, the more doubts they have.

A journal editor in Rangoon said, ‘We haven’t received an invitation letter. I’m not sure whether they will invite us or not’.

One journal editor told Mizzima that local journalists were not welcomed when the National Convention met and this could be a similar situation, because of the nature of the discussions and debate that could occur in Parliament.

He said, ‘That means they don’t want the journalists to know about parliamentary events because the journalists will inform the people about the events’.

In the National Convention, which began in 1993 and was completed in 2007, the Ministry of Information invited some resident correspondents of foreign news organizations and some foreign correspondents attend the sessions.

Many new members of Parliament are now in the capital, lodged in special guesthouses located downtown. A room costs 1,500 kyat (about US$ 1.50), including two meals.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Myanmar (FCCM) held a meeting in Rangoon on January 18 and decided to apply to the Ministry of Information for access to parliamentary sessions to cover the events.

“We applied via the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division. But, we haven’t got any reply. We are still waiting’, a Rangoon-based correspondent from a foreign news agency told Mizzima.

However, during an opening ceremony for a library in Thaketa Township in Rangoon on January 17, Information Minister Kyaw Hsan told resident correspondents from a foreign news agency that the Ministry of Information would invite journalists from foreign news agencies to cover parliamentary sessions.

Section 52 of new Parliamentary laws says anyone (except lawmakers) who enters the parliament building without permission of the Parliamentary chairman could be sentenced to a minimum of one year in prison or fined kyat 100,000 (about US$ 100) or both.

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