Mon State’s new Chief Minister Dr. Aye Zan announced yesterday that he would hold weekly press conferences to inform the public about the government’s activities.
“We will begin holding weekly meetings on Thursday or Friday. If I am travelling on those days we will reschedule the press conference for the following week,” the Minister said.
Reporters currently have access to some government meetings, though many are held behind closed doors. While the Chief Minister’s announcement will not change that policy, he said it would allow the media more access to the government’s plans.
According to chapter 3 of the 2014 Media Law, journalists should be given access to government offices and meetings according to individual departmental rules. To many journalists, more press conferences does not make up for continued restrictions.
“If the government is discussing matters of public relevance, they should allow journalists to observe, but so far they have not agreed to allow the media access. It is good that they will give press conferences to explain what they are doing, but we are really only getting their perspectives,” said U Zi Nar, chairperson of Mon State Media Association.
Though a far cry from the transparency that Mon State media organizations seek, the Chief Minister’s announcement does represent a significant improvement from his predecessor’s policies. Former Chief Minister U Min Min Oo faced criticism for holding press conferences only once a month and generally restricting access to departmental information.
U Min Min Oo resigned his post in February following broad criticism of his conduct, including allegations of corruption and a lack of transparency. His replacement, Dr Aye Zan, was appointed by the President on March 1.