Daily News- July 13- 2002- Thursday

  • Burma to understand free press of Thailand

  • Burma to understand free press of Thailand

    Source : Bangkok Post

    The Burmese military junta has blacklisted 15 Thai journalists, accusing them of belittling the Rangoon government and writing anti-Burma articles.

    The 15 would be denied entry visas, said Tin Win, a member of the Burmese government information committee yesterday.

    The blacklisted worked for two English-language newspapers, the Bangkok Post and the Nation, and six Thai-language newspapers _ Thai News, Daily News, Siam Rath, Matichon, Thai Rath and Khao Sod, he said.

    Tin Win denied the move was made in retaliation against Thailand's ban on Ma Tin Win, a columnist of Burma's New Light of Myanmar official newspaper, who in recent weeks had written scathing articles about Thailand.

    ``We blacklisted the 15 Thai journalists for constantly writing anti-Myanmar articles mainly aimed at damaging bilateral relations, causing disunity among ethnic minorities and belittling the Myanmar government's policies,'' Tin Win said. He did not elaborate.

    In Bangkok, Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai yesterday said he was unaware of the blacklist, or Burma's reason for drawing up such a list.

    Thai ambassador Oum Maolanond was already instructed to make inquiries with the Burmese foreign ministry.

    ``The Thai press enjoys full freedoms. Newspaper columnists enjoy the freedom to express their views. This has nothing to do with the government and Burma should understand this,'' he said.

    He refused to be drawn into the question of whether Burma was retaliating to the ban on Ma Tin Win.

    ``I don't know,'' Mr Surakiart said. ``We still don't know the real reason. We will reconsider the situation when we know the real reason, and decide if we agree with it.''

    The House foreign affairs panel described Burma's blacklisting of the 15 Thai journalists as ``regrettable'' and ``unconstructive''.

    ``The Thai government should raise the matter for discussion with Burma and reach a mutual understanding. It was not very constructive on the Burmese part to have done so, given the already strained relationships ,'' said Panpree Mahitanukorn, a panel member from the Chart Pattana party.

    Panel vice-chairman Kobsak Chutikul, from the Chart Thai party, said it was ``regrettable'' Rangoon reacted in such a tit-for-tat manner.

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