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Ministry of Information aims to increase control of information

(Mizzima/IFEX) - Information Minister Brigadier General Kyaw San has notified all government departments to inform him in advance if there is any information that they wish to withhold so that his ministry can cooperate with the department concerned in controlling such information.

The circular, sent by the Information Ministry to all ministries and government departments and obtained by Mizzima, says, "The Information Ministry can control the flow of information by appropriate means if the department concerned sends prior notice to this ministry on the information that it would like to have withheld and censored, and not to be released".

The circular is dated 15 October 2008, and has the subject line, "To establish a coordinated news release system and news coordination system among all ministries for press scrutiny purposes." The Information Ministry says it is facing difficulties in setting norms for terminology and subject matter to be used by the Press Scrutiny Board (Censor Board) as there is no coordination of the information exchanged among the ministries.

"There are frequent controversial disputes found to be taking place between the departments concerned and the media," the circular says.

In a recent study of press freedom conducted by the France-based Reporters Sans Frontier (RSF), Burma ranks 170th out of 173 countries, just above Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.

The RSF study says, "Journalists and intellectuals, even foreign ones, have for years been viewed as enemies by the regime."

Brigadier General Kyaw San's circular urged the ministries to release their news by press committee.

"Instead of today's denial and withholding of information, the pre-emptive action of releasing news tactfully and preparing in advance is better," the circular added.

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