Sunday, December 23, 2012

TOP 10 Events of 2012—No 9


Sunday, 23 December 2012 10:34 Mizzima News

Mizzima’s sister publication, M-Zine+, has selected what its editors have decided are the 10 biggest events or issues in Burma over the past 12 months.

We began the countdown on December 22 at No. 10, and will recall one issue each day until we finish on December 31 with the most momentous event of the year.

No rest for the little elves at, we will be working all the way through Xmas and New Year, bringing you the latest and most accurate news from Burma.

9. President Thin Sein meets the media

President Thein Sein speaks at his first press conference with domestic media at the President’s House in Naypyitaw on Sunday, October 21, 2012. The president answered more than 30 questions for more than two hours. Photo: Ye Min / Mizzima

For years, the state-controlled media in Myanmar [Burma] was principally of interest to those who find authoritarian phraseology diverting.

The country’s print newspapers had be-medalled generals visiting industrial plants like potentates, there to give instructions. There were felicitations bestowed upon the ruling class by fellow autocrats, and the opposition leader was depicted in cartoon form as a vampire.

The core values of the regime – resembling the white on red signs that were scattered throughout the country – regularly appeared in print.

In general, the state media represented how the authorities saw the world. There was no sense that – to use a well-known English proverb – ‘a cat could talk to a king’.

Although that media mise-en-scene was not absolute and in recent years more private media forms appeared – albeit subject to censorship – it is this year where the change has been most dramatic and, one hopes, is intended to be built on and not reversed.

Censorship was dropped and new media laws are being worked on. And in a scene that could hardly have been imagined a few years ago, on October 21, Myanmar’s president sat for a press conference with local (and some foreign) media in Naypyitaw.

The struggle for a free and independent fourth estate is by no means won at this point. Also, as the restrictions on the press fall away or become limited, it is incumbent upon those in the media to consider the public interest and not seek to form independent power centres where they might have the power to inflame sentiment on this or that issue. This summer saw some in the media let their passions and biases get the better of them.

As with many issues, the current development of the relationship between the state, the public and the media is a process and one that will need regular attention and care lest it become once again dysfunctional.
M-ZINE+ is a business weekly available in print in Yangon through Innwa Bookstore and through online subscription at

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