Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NLD to launch weekly periodical

Wednesday, 14 December 2011 12:18 Myo Thant

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – In another sign of expanding freedoms in Burma, the National League for Democracy (NLD) will publish a weekly party periodical called “D Hline (Tidal Wave).”

The periodical will be published every Monday.

NLD senior leader and journalist Win Tin and writer Maung Moe Thu were named patrons of the weekly, and the editorial team includes Ohn Kyaing, Monywa Aung Shin, Phyapon Ni Lone Oo, Nyein Thit and Ni Mo Hlaing.

“The periodical’s name stands for ‘wave of democracy,’” said Nyein Thit. “We will launch it as soon as we get the permit.”

The first issue will appear after the party is formally registered. On November 24, 21 NLD members submitted an application for a permit to register to the Union Election Commission [UEC]. On Tuesday, the application was approved, Nyan Win, an NLD spokesman told Mizzima. Two NLD leaders will go to the UEC next week to register the party, which plans to run candidates in the by-election. NLD Secretary-General Aung San Suu Kyi has announced that she will run for a seat in Parliament.

The first issue will feature the party’s political policy, review its activities for the past 20 years, feature NLD candidates who will run in the coming by-election and include articles by scholars, according to the editors.

A registered political party can publish a party periodical without passing manuscripts through the censorship board prior to publication. A party must acquire a publication permit from the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, by paying a 100,000 kyat (about US $126) application fee and a 500,000 kyat deposit.

Talking about the application fee, Peace and Diversity Party [PDP] chairman Nay Myo Wai told Mizzima, “We will lose the deposit money if our periodical delivers a serious personal attack.” The PDP publishes a monthly periodical called “Diversity.”

The Shan Nationalities Democratic Party has also announced plans to launch a weekly journal.

Meanwhile, the NLD has also approved a new party emblem, replacing its well-known bamboo hat emblem. The new emblem is a golden fighting peacock gazing at a white star against a red background.  White text will read “National League for Democracy” at the bottom of the emblem.

The lack of prior censorship for political party publications is a major step forward in Burma, if it truly leads to more free political expression. Recently, censorship has been a hot and cold affair with publications generally still cautious about pushing the boundaries for fear of warnings or suspensions by the Press Censorship Board, sometimes referred to as the “Press Kempeitai” by the literary community, which refers to the Japanese army’s brutal military police wing that was part of the occupation forces in Burma during World War II.

No person better exemplifies the ins and outs of censorship than opposition leader Suu Kyi, who gave the Rangoon-based People’s Era Journal an article in August 2010 about her trip to Bagan earlier that year. The censorship board told the journal to remove several paragraphs of her article.

“When they tell us to remove something in articles written by us, we remove them,” Maung Wun Tha said, who appealed the ruling.

But then in an about face, a few weeks later the article was approved as written and published.

“Recently, Aung San Suu Kyi met with the president and they seemed to get along, so there is nothing to say,” Maung Wun Tha told Mizzima. He refused to disclose what type of information the board had wanted to remove.

In September 2010, Information and Culture Minister Kyaw Hsan told the Lower House of Parliament that Burmese media was immature and needed censorship to protect the people and the state.

But for now at least, the signs seem to be pointing to expanding media freedom in Burma.

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