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
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