YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar abolished direct censorship of the media Monday in the most dramatic move yet toward allowing freedom of expression in the long-repressed nation. But related laws and practices that may lead to self-censorship raise doubt about how much will change.
Under the new rules, journalists will no longer have to submit their work to state censors before publication as they have for almost half a century. However, the same harsh laws that have allowed Myanmar’s rulers to jail and blacklist reported and to control the media in the name of protecting national security remain unchanged.
For decades, this Southeast Asian nation’s reporters had been regarded as among the most restricted in the world, subjected to routine state surveillance, phone taps, and censorship so intense that independent papers could not publish on a daily basis.
President Thein Sein’s reformist government has significantly relaxed media controls over the last year, though, allowing reporters to print material that would have been unthinkable during the era of absolute military rule.