3 May 2019
14th Waning of Tagu, 1381 ME
I send this Message of Greetings and good wishes to all journalists in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to be blessed with auspiciousness. The World Press Freedom Day is celebrated every year starting from 1993 to raise awareness of the democratic right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day in 1993 marking the anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in Windhoek in 1991.
To respect the basic principles of the press freedom, to assess the state of press freedom worldwide, to protect fighting against the press freedom and to honour those who sacrificed their lives while working as journalists, the World Press Freedom Day is celebrated yearly.
The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation”. The World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) is celebrated globally on 3 May. Ethiopia will host this year’s World Press Freedom Day in its capital city Addis Ababa. Myanmar celebrated the World Press Freedom Day starting from 2012 and this year’s celebration marks the 8th year. I take pride for the Myanmar Press Council, which is a leading body on press freedom, for holding the World Press Freedom Day ceremony for the first time on a grand scale.
Article-19 of the World Human Rights Declaration states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Similarly, the Article 354 (a) of the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar states that “ Every citizen shall be at liberty in the exercise of the following rights, if not contrary to the laws, enacted for Union security, prevalence of law and order, community peace and tranquillity or public order and morality: (a) to express and publish freely their convictions and opinions.”
Therefore, it is required to take advantage of the right to press freedom while practising balance between freedom and accountability and responsibility. It is required to pay special attention to the Article 29 (2) of the World Human Rights Declaration which also states that :
In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
In a democratic country there will always be elections. To hold free and fair elections and to elect the people who can serve in the interest of the country and the people, the media plays an important role in it. To ensure that the people full information and knowledge of elections and to make building a Democratic Federal Republic a success, journalists are required to make efforts in accordance with the objectives of the this year’s World Press Freedom Day.
It is found that fakes news and fabricated news are being used to influence the opinions of the voters and groundless accusations are used to criticize each other in international elections. Such fake and fabricated news emerge through the social media channel which is less controlled and thus tarnishing the image of the basic human right of the freedom of expression. It is the duty of the responsible and professional journalists to prevent such acts and steer them on to the right path.
The government believes that an independent media and democracy is always linked together. The force of the media is considered as essential in a transition to democracy. For the democratic system to be strong media freedom is recognized as vital.
Therefore in the government’s ardent efforts towards establishing a Democratic Federal Union much emphasis is placed on the role of the media. Interferences to the national development works and democracy transition work processes such as sensitive conflicts, wrong news, hate speeches, biased and one sided news need to be controlled according to the code of conduct and ethics.
Nowadays the role of the media had changed noticeably. Media can be seen as the critic of the government, defender of individual human rights, public informant to emphasize on the affairs of a society, bridge between the people and the government etc.
During the period of transition to a democracy the government of the people has been working toward acquiring and maintaining fundamentals like state security, rule of law, justice in human society and preventing the loss of citizen rights while facing challenges. Being a force in the transition to democracy, media on their side should ensure accuracy of the news and information, avoid writings that include the opinion of the writer and writings that incite conflict and support the journey to democracy that the people desire.
I therefore solemnly urge media personnel to continuously upgrade and raise their media quality and capacity. Strive towards becoming journalists that defend democracy. Support in spreading the knowledge of democracy within the people and cooperate and work together towards establishment of a Democratic Federal Republic.
Ref: The Global New Light of Myanmar