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The Burmese grab their first personal newspaper in 50 years | World News
Private dailies have landed in kiosks for the first in 50 years in Burma, where a state media kiosk once reduced news to a barely minimal level, generally by threatening to censor, detain or torment - or all three. "We waited half a centurys for this day", says Khin Maung Lay, editor-in-chief of the new daily newspaper Golden Fresh Land, whose first circulation of 80,000 pieces was booked out in the mornings.
"This shows how much popular the public craves personal dailies. Home to a living printing community - where daily dailies in Burma, English, China and India blossomed - Burma shut down its entire daily printing operations under the leadership of General Ne Win in 1964. Freedom of the media is the latest in a long line of reform under a quasi-civilian regime since President Thein Sein took over in 2011.
Whilst the changes are mainly politically and economically driven, they have also opened up the Burmese media considerably, such as the withdrawal of prior to last year's release and the recent opening of an Associated Media office in Rangoon, the first international news office headquartered in the state. Nonetheless, the 1962 Printing and Registration Act, which provides for a seven-year prison term for non-registration - and allows the federal administration to stay publishers' licenses at any given moment - still applies to reporters.
In addition to Golden Fresh Land, the newspapers Standard Time Daily, The Voice (which has now been changed from a week to a daily basis) and Union, which is affiliated with the governing USDP political group of Thein Sein, are also available at kiosks (most are free, while one costs 15p). A lot of newspapers were out of print until noon, said Rangoon newspaper outlets.
Newspapers reported a dramatic range of topics and sound. Voting included an updated on interethnic force in Rakhine state, where more than 200 people were murdered and 115,000 were driven out last year after struggles between Rakhine Buddhists and the Rohingya Muslim majority, while the Union concentrated on news from the administration, such as the resignation of ministers.
Gold Fresh Land reported on Aung San Suu Kyi's upcoming trip to Japan and Thein Sein's talk on the recent Buddhist-Muslim violent situation in Mandalay, which has claimed more than 40 lives and displaced more than 12,000 of them. In addition, there is a new Yangon Times and Mizzima Daily, an arm of the on-line news portal Mizzima.
Mizzima' s executive journalist Sein Win: "We want to ensure that the paper is of the best possible standard and has taken enough free space to build up capacities in the news-room. "It' not going to be simple for all papers to live. It' the best way to get the latest news for those who don't have broadband access."
In addition, a quarterly report on a group of Chin news reports in exile, whose magazine with its extremely vulnerable contents has so far had to be published in India, will be published next week. "We' ll concentrate on news reflecting breaches of international humanitarian law - whether it' s violating society or religion - that are taking place in China, as well as the position of the Chinese abroad," Salai Robert von Khonumthung, Burma' s vice-rev. said recently to the Burmese democrat.
"There are some obstacles ahead," said Khin Maung Lay of Golden Fresh Land, 81, who was imprisoned three years under the N? Win regime. "As of today, the way of reporting[in Burma] has changed."