Myanmar criticized for limited election coverage
Local and foreign media have criticized Myanmar’s Union Election Commission’s control on news reporting.
In the letter to Myanmar Press Council (Interim), the UEC specified that only three press members from a media in respective townships are allowed to cover the election.
“The election is a change for the country. Such limitations on press coverage should not be made in the transitional period to a democratic nation,” Shwe Hmon, the chief reporter of Thamaga News Journal, said.
Aung Hla Tun of Reuters, chair- man of Myanmar foreign correspondents club, questioned the UEC’s motive, saying that all keep a close eye on the election. If the UEC wanted to ensure that the election would be free and fair, why is the media not allowed to cover the election freely, he asked.
Election observer groups have also questioned the UEC’s motive.
“The UEC allows only three journalists from a media in the respective townships. Its intention is unclear. Can the journalists take photographs inside the polling station or outside? I think there is no need to limit the number of journalists outside the polling station. If only three journalists near the polling station are allowed to cover, in my opinion, it seems very repressive,” Sai Ye Kyaw Swa Myint of Pace election observer group said.
The UEC revealed that media identity cards would be issued after the journalists have already signed the acknowledgement attached with the announcement. They must also register no later than Nov. 5. The acknowledgement required the journalists to follow existing laws, regulations and instructions occasionally issued by the Ministry of Information. Some point out that the acknowledgement does not concern the election.