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Private newspapers return to Myanmar

01/04/13 14:35 CET

People in Myanmar now have access to private daily newspapers for the first time in almost 50 years.

Private dailies in the former British colony, also known as Burma, were forced to shut down following a military coup in 1964.

Their re-emergence now is seen as another major step in the country’s transformation from authoritarian rule to democracy.

Newspaper owner Khin Maung Lay is hopeful for the future: “My newspaper’s permit expires on June 30. As it stands I’ll need to ask for an extension after that, but if I do then it’s not really press freedom. I don’t believe my president will ask me to do that.”

So far 16 papers have been given licences, though only four were ready to print on the first day.

Taxi driver Ko Kyaw was appreciative: ‘‘Private newspapers are more open than government newspapers, it’s good.”

Journalists have not had to routinely submit their work for state censorship since August, and the publication of the first private daily papers fell on a significant date for the country – the first anniversary of the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.

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