Two Burmese Journals Suspended

The popular magazines land in hot water after speculating on details of an expected cabinet shakeup.
Email story
Comment on this story
Print story
A Burmese vendor sells newspapers along a road in Rangoon, March 31, 2012.
A Burmese vendor sells newspapers along a road in Rangoon, March 31, 2012.

Updated at 10.30 p.m. EST on 2012-07-31

Two popular Burmese weekly magazines have been suspended indefinitely after they speculated on a potential cabinet reshuffle, in a sign that President Thein Sein's administration remains wary of the media even as it pursues reforms.

The government's Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD), which requires media outlets to submit articles for approval before publication, told The Voice weekly and Envoy magazines Tuesday that they were suspended for violating regulations.

No specific reasons were given, but the two had speculated on details of an expected cabinet reshuffle.

The Voice ran the reshuffle story on the cover page with a satirical cartoon.

"They said this is because [we] do not follow the rules and regulation of the press scrutiny office," Voice chief editor Kyaw Min Swe told RFA,  elaborating on the suspension notice. 

"As usual, they didn't mention any specific case but cited incidents since June, and [we were] suspended temporarily."

He said that the rules were drawn up during the previous military rule and "in this time of democratic transition, we media folks don't consider them as rules and regulations."

"We consider [the regulations] a block on freedom, so we define them differently," he said.

Envoy Chief editor Zaw Htut Maung also confirmed with RFA that the journal has been suspended indefinitely.

The journal had published a piece on the reshuffle, naming five ministers. It also had carried excerpts from an interview that government parliamentarian Aung Thein Linn gave to a Chinese publication, according to reports.

Editors summoned

The Voice's controversial cover story on the cabinet reshuffle.
The Voice's controversial cover story on the cabinet reshuffle. Photo: RFA
Government censorship chief Tint Swe summoned the editors of the weekly journals on Tuesday and explained the suspensions to them, but his office refused to answer questions posed by RFA.

According to media sources in Rangoon cited by the Irrawaddy online journal, Tint Swe and another official ordered the editors to follow the regulations set down by the PSRD and the repressive Printers and Publishers Act enacted after a 1962 military coup.

Tint Swe said The Voice weekly has published eight news stories without submitting them to the censorship board while Envoy had gone to print with seven, according to Irrawaddy.

The Voice weekly is also fighting a defamation suit filed by the Ministry of Mines over a story alleging irregularities in several government ministries' accounts, but in a rare court victory in May a judge ruled that the magazine need not disclose to the government the name of a reporter who filed the controversial piece about corruption.

"We have always supported whoever is working practically on the right path for the benefit of the country," Kyaw Min Swe said, adding that the journal does not take the side of the government, the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the military, or opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

"We had been attacked as a government supporter in the past, but when we believe that the government has done something that was good for the country's peaceful transition, we stand by it," he said.

"Basically, we are very optimistic. But it is very hard to see this [current case] as a good sign."

Reported by Khin Moe Moe for RFA's Burmese service. Translated by Khin May Zaw. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

CORRECTION – RFA has corrected the names of the editors in the eighth and 14th paragraphs.





More Listening Options

View Full Site