THE MYANMAR TIMES
APRIL 14 20, 2014
The local lowdown & best of the web
Myanmar’s media reforms herald a new era in the glorious democratic transition
A reporter for the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Zaw Pe, is staring down the barrel of a one-year prison sentence after being found guilty of “trespassing” and “disturbing a civil servant on duty” or, for what it sounds like from details currently available, “committing a fairly benign and routine act of journalism”.
.The charges were levelled over an August 2012 incident where Zaw Pe visited the Magwe Region Education Department in order to carry out an interview about a scholarship program.DVB has denounced the sentencing, and his lawyer Thein Tun (no relation to Mr Pepsi) says the verdict will be appealed.“Despite all the government ofﬁcials’ pledges of press reform, we believe the jailing of Zaw Pe is an obstacle to media freedom in the country, and we call for the unconditional release of the reporter and his co-defendant,” read a statement issued by DVB.Zaw Pe is not the ﬁrst journalist to be sentenced for trespassing in recent months, with Eleven Media’s Ma Khine having served three months for “defamation, trespassing, and allegedly using abusive language while interviewing a lawyer about a legal dispute in eastern Kayah State”, according to a statement from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).Ma Khine was the ﬁrst reporter to be imprisoned since U Thein Sein’s political prisoner amnesty in 2012 which saw 14 journalists released.Another case currently going through the legal system is, of course, the four journalists being put through the wringer over trespassing and charges that fall under the 1923 Burma State Secrets Act.While reporting on issues like an alleged nuclear facility almost certainly requires a good deal more tiptoeing than, say, a piece on scholarships, it’s deﬁnitely a concern that a journalist can be handed a prison sentence for “disturbing an on-duty civil servant”.In early 2014, it was announced that Myanmar had climbed six places to 145th in the 180-country Press Freedom Index.
The Face of a Human Rights Award
In an announcement certain to annoy card-carrying 969ers,
magazine’s Hannah Beech has won the English-language Magazine prize for “The Face of Buddhist Terror” at the annual Human Rights Press Awards in Hong Kong. This is the 18th year that the Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Journalists Association and Amnesty International Hong Kong “have joined to recognize outstanding reporting in the area of human rights”.
Census skips hung-over household
With the census now all but wrapped up, anecdotal evidence would seem to point to a decent number of homes being skipped over altogether. I’d assumed my home would also miss out. But, the morning of April 6, an enumerator came to the door of my apartment.She was met by my shirtless, crapulent housemate who explained that everyone was asleep. She didn’t press the issue and left immediately. While I’m grateful for the lie-in, the lack of tenacity on the enumerator’s part is a bit upsetting. I’d been really excited about ﬁlling in the forms.
April Fools joke goes “too far”
An April Fools report claiming that one of Taiwan’s beloved pandas had been infected by parasites and could be euthanised went “too far”, the upset mayor of Taipei said last week.The story, published on the homepages of Next Media websites in Hong Kong and Taiwan, claimed that Yuan Yuan, mother of the ﬁrst Taiwan-born panda cub Yuan Zai, was seriously ill.“Taipei Zoo ofﬁcials have been discussing euthanizing her... much like Copenhagen Zoo recently did with its giraffe Marius,” the story said.The story sparked immediate concern from local media, and saw the concerned Taipei government rush to check with zoo authorities whether it was true.“All the three pandas have been in good shape,” Taipei mayor Hua Lung-bin said, according to a spokesperson. “We don’t know the motive of the story. The joke has been taken too far.”Fortunately the reports were not picked up on by staff at
The New Light of Myanmar,
who generally take their commitment to panda-related coverage every bit as seriously as that of elephant births, municipal works and the release of ﬁngerlings.
– With AFP
Local rasta unimpressed at enumerator skipping over his house and thus denying him the chance to put “914” and “human being” on the census formExpat wrestled with “immense white guilt” while swilling free champagne at April 5 TS-1 gallery launch in Yangon’s dockyards
Two women hospitalised after a violent scufﬂe over the last pack of tampons at CityMart
Once was Burma ...
Archival material provided by Pansodan Gallery
Photo: Htet Aung Kyaw ( Studio- HAK)