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Myanmar press freedom a step in right direction.

After nearly half a decade of cowering under severe oppression, Myanmar's media raises its head above the parapet with cautious hope. The launch of four new daily newspapers this week, the first among the 16 newspapers that have been granted licences to graduate from weeklies to dailies, necessitates understandable cheer in a country that, under its former regime, outraged the world for decades with its blatant disregard for democratic and humane conventions. This nascent media progress, or what is being perceived as such, has enabled the country to climb to the rank of 151 from 179 in the World Press Freedom Index, a jump that seems to suggest democratic agility in a country that until recently had stagnated for decades at the bottom of the rankings. However, despite the cheer, many already fear that the interim press council's role has already been compromised as the government strongarms its new draft press law into resolution.

In all likelihood, media watchers believe, the new law will simply redefine the old strangulatory tactics. But even as citizens are grabbing the new dailies off the rack and clearing their throats to be heard louder, the country's problems are escalating as 13 boys died in a fire at a mosque in Yangon, the cause of the fire stoked by conflicting theories and licking at the raw wounds of the ongoing Buddhist-Muslim ethnic conflict. Myanmar media's acid test has just begun. It will soon know what it will be allowed to do in the name of journalism.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9MYAN
Date:Apr 3, 2013
Words:267
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