Myanmar to allow daily private newspapers


This file picture taken on April 2, 2012 in Yangon shows men reading a newspaper carrying a picture of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on its front-page a day after parliamentary by-elections across the country.



Myanmar announced on Friday that it would allow private daily newspapers beginning in April for the first time since 1964.

The southeast Asian country has been implementing social and political reforms under a nominally civilian government led by President Thein Sein. The announcement about private daily newspapers is only the latest sign of reforms for a long-repressed nation.

According to the Associated Press, the Information Ministry announced on its website that any Myanmar national wishing to publish a daily newspaper would be able to submit an application in February.

Reuters noted that before the military seized power in Myanmar, also known as Burma, in 1962, the country had more than a dozen local private dailies in multiple languages. Currently, only state-controlled newspapers are allowed to publish on a daily basis, most of which are considered propaganda-filled mouthpieces for the government.

"We can say it is the beginning of the third and final stage of the media reforms in the country," a senior Information Ministry official told Reuters. "We will accept applications in February and I expect there will be about a dozen applicants."

"We are ready to rock," said Nyein Nyein Naing, the executive editor of the weekly paper 7Days News, according to Agence France Presse. "This is a milestone for our industry and for our country and people as well."

AFP noted that several weekly newspapers are now scrambling to get ready for the change. Kyaw Min Swe, chief editor of the Voice Weekly, said at least five weekly newspapers are ready to go daily.

In August, Myanmar ended the pre-publication censorship that had previously been applied to all published material.

More on GlobalPost: Myanmar Decoded: journey toward reform