Information Ministry blocks Myanmar Eleven permit

The Ministry of Information has again suspended the publishing permit for the English version of the Myanmar Eleven. Eleven Nation Media Co Ltd (ENM), a joint venture of the Eleven Media Group and the Nation Multimedia Group in Thailand, applied for a permit several times this year.

The permit application was submitted in January 2014. At a press conference in Nay Pyi Taw on February 7, Aung Kyaw Oo, director of the Information and Public Relations Department (IPRD), said: “The Eleven Nation Media is a joint-venture [with] the Nation Multimedia Group from Thailand. Since it has to be considered under the Foreign Investment Law, we are still negotiating with the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development whether the Central Supervisory Committee for the Registration and Distribution of Printers and Publishers can allow the Myanmar Eleven to publish using a temporary company registration and whether it needs to apply only after submitting the proposal to the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) and getting back the permission regarding section 32 of the law.”

The Ministry of National Planning said its decision had already been sent to the Ministry of Information, which told ENM that there was full documentation for the English paper. The application was resubmitted in the second week of February.

However, Aung Kyaw Oo said on April 5 that as the Printing and Publishing Law had just been signed by the president, the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Act was cancelled, invalidating previous permits. Hence, two newspapers, including the Myanmar Eleven, 17 journals, three magazines and seven general publishing permits were left subject to review.

He added that new permits would be granted within 14 days if full documentation was submitted.

Aung Kyaw Oo said that the Central Supervisory Committee had issued the permits before the Printing and Publishing Law was enacted. Numerous ministries were represented on the committee, he said, so it could not meet every week. It was scheduled to meet in March to grant the licences but the Union Parliament approved the Printing and Publishing Law on March 14 so the committee meeting was cancelled and publications that had their licences under review had to resubmit their applications.

ENM reapplied for a permit on November 17 but Kyaw Htay, from the IPRD, said the application had been rejected because a permit from the MIC was needed first.

Dr Thein Myint, managing director of ENM, said: “We submitted the application for the permit on January 4. Two weeks later, the Ministry of Information told us that the form was not complete so we submitted it with full documentation on January 21. They didn’t grant us the permit.

“When we called the ministry, an official told us that the permit would be granted as the documentation was complete. But they didn’t grant us the permit and asked us if we would take the benefits from the Foreign Investment Law. We resubmitted the application after saying that we would not take the benefits. Everything was complete and nothing else was needed. At that time, the Union Parliament enacted the Printing and Publishing Law, which was drafted by the Ministry of Information. The Central Supervisory Committee was invalidated because of this law and they told us that they couldn’t issue the permit. Even though they still had enough time to grant us the permit, they claimed that it was difficult to call a meeting of the committee,” he said.

“Now, when we tried to reapply for the permit, they said we needed to submit a whole new application. When we submitted the new application, they asked us for the Myanmar Investment Commission’s approval. The ministries have informed each other about the approval from the MIC. Has this notification letter become useless within a year? I see this as an attempt to delay the process,” he added.

Source: The Nation

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