So as to be well convinced of the performances for reforms of the Ministry of Information during one-year period when the new government took office, an interview was made with Dr Pe Myint, Union Minister for Information.
Interviewer: Dear Sir, Please let me know about the major tasks of the Ministry of Information.
Dr Pe Myint: Concisely speaking, the ministry is the one that bridges between the government and the people. All governments are responsible for reporting what they are carrying out for the country, regularly. The Ministry of Information makes its broadcasting & printing media and public relation department perform the responsibilities. The Ministry of Information is reporting the performances of the government to the people, and simultaneously it is giving news and information to the government and the people.
Interviewer: I would like to know how the ministry spans between the people and the government.
Dr Pe Myint: In previous one-year-period, the Ministry of Information managed to present news on the events which are happening in the country and its related international events, for the public to know them all to the full. This is the major responsibility of the Ministry of Information.
So as to be more convinced of the duty, I would like to give an example. That is the programme presenting the performances of the incumbent government. The programme is being broadcast through TV. Dailies are also describing them on special programme pages. When finished, these collected reports will be published as a big chronicle.
Under the programme, there include the organizations of the legislature panel—Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, Pyithu Hluttaw and Amyotha Hluttaw, with the Government of the State at the Union level and the Ministries of the executive panel and the office of the Union Attorney General, the office of Union Auditor General, Union Civil Service Board, Cabinets of Regions and States; and Union Supreme Court of judiciary panel to report their respective performances to the public during the previous one-year-period.
Following the release of these reports, the Ministry of Information is to present collected accounts of reforms in the sectors of politics, economy and social welfare in the previous one-year-period, comprising of these policies.
When combined all presentations, the performances of the incumbent government during one-year-period will become a historical chronicle. Putting records of events is the one among the responsibilities of the Ministry of Information.
Interviewer: Please tell me about departments under the Ministry and their performances.
Dr Pe Myint: Under the Ministry of Information, there are departments and organizations. With the office of the ministry excluded, the ministry has MRTV and the Department of Information and Public Relation Department, which opens libraries and public relation offices across the nation. Another one is the publishing and publication department, where prescribed books and readers for schools, the State Gazette and necessary documents for the government are being printed. Under it, Sarpay Beikman is a branch of the department. The next one is the News and Periodicals Enterprise, which runs operating of dailies—Kyemon, Myanma Ahlin and the Global New Light of Myanmar (English Version).
Interviewer: Apart from bridging the gap between the people and the government, which sectors have the Ministry of Information taken responsibilities for?
Dr Pe Myint: The moment people hear the word, “Ministry of Information,” they see radios, TVs and newspapers. Besides giving news and information to the public, the Ministry is serving the interests of the people, which is an important sector of making people’s intellectual development and progressive emergence of literary development in the country. As regards the sector, the Ministry performed programmes for literary campaigns, for example, there were paper-reading events on politics, monsoon book-fair festival, paper-reading events on contemporary historical literature and winter season book fair festival held under the sponsorship of printing and publication department. Very soon, discussions on translation and paper-reading events are to be held. Book-fair festivals used to be co-held together with paper-reading events. Yet, now Theinbyu Street, where the office of publishing and publication is situated and paper-reading events used to be held, was made “The Book Street” as an upgrade. This is one of the performances the Ministry carried out for the progress of books and literature.
On the other hand, information and public relation department is holding children literary festivals in many places of the country for the development of literature. Last year, the children literary festival was held in Nay Pyi Taw, with the one held in Mandalay and another one being held in Mawlamyaing presently.
The children literary festival in Nay Pyi Taw was sponsored by the Ministry of Information only, with in Mandalay co-sponsored by Ministry of Information and Mandalay Region Cabinet. Children Literary Festival being held in Mawlamyaing was co-sponsored by the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Education and Mon State Cabinet.
Interviewer: Is there other organizations which are co-operating with the Ministry of Information for the development of literature?
Dr Pe Myint: In performing the tasks of literature development, the Ministry is co-operating with other ministries, region and state cabinets, private institutions and individual well-wishers. Like, in co-operation with Tun Foundation, Sarpay Beikman had arranged to publish the Myanmar Encyclopedia, a Treatise of great value and honour for Myanmar. In 1954, it commenced to have been compiled, so it lagged much behind, in keeping abreast with the time. Co-operation will be made to modernize the Encyclopedia by revising, adding and editing.
Here, I would like to say that the Ministry of Information is to perform the tasks of its responsibilities by itself. Simultaneously, it is to co-operate the tasks of literature development with enthusiastic individuals, organizations and scholars who are interested in literature development.
Reading Rooms for Children
With the aids of Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, the Information and Public Relation Department managed to change libraries into Community Centers, having reading rooms for children in 133 district and township offices and holding 51 lectures for children, 207 story-telling contests, 48 poem-recitation contests, 20 essay writing contests and 222 reading events during one year period.
Educative video titled, “We, three, once in the past,” which educates narcotic drug abuse may lead the whole community to destruction, a video titled, “A fire that starts from garbage,” for the public to take ethics—moral lessons from the world truths and the video titled, “Even Superman cannot help,” intended for people to learn to value and protect the natural environment were filmed and shown.
With a view to developing libraries and convincing people of current affairs and democratic practices, the video titled, “The next door illuminated by lights,” was filmed for showing the public, according to the information and public relation department.
IPRD published Myanmar Affairs (volume1) in 2016 and volume 2 in 2017, from the collected works of term-papers of paper-reading events on research, by categorizing facts on politics, economy and social affairs concerning the State Government in one-year-period.
Changes in accord with the Time
During one year period when the new government took office, the Ministry of Information carried out the tasks of making invited overseas media men conduct trainings for local media persons to abide by media ethics, sending local media men abroad to attend seminars and trainings, to upgrade the skills of personnel under the Ministry. Better presentation in filming, art creation, application of techniques, editing and news coverage were made.
Staff under the IPRD as well, managed to develop techniques and progress of literature as well as to make the practices of keeping records and facts. Upgrading the status of newsroom, reporters and editors, distribution systems, human resources and infrastructure were made, whereas reforming to become unbiased people’s media and people’s relation centers were also implemented.
Book Street in Yangon
Printing and publication department is a department that is mainly performing the tasks of printing State Gazettes, readers for basic education schools, election ballots for the whole country, commissioned by Union Election Commission.
Theinbyu Street, the location of the office of printing and publication, where book fair festivals are co-held with paper-reading events was upgraded to Book Street. This is one of the achievements of the Ministry of Information in a year.
Myanma Alin, Kyemon and the Global New Light of Myanmar have been making its effort to educate, inform and entertain the people starting from the day when the new government took office, bringing about the emergence of attractive pages on politics, economy and social affairs daily. At the same time, Mandalay pages on news and articles from Mandalay, and ethnic pages written in Mon, Sakaw Kayin, Poh Kayin, Paoh languages are also being described weekly.
The State-run papers, being the most subscribed and trustworthy ones, there are influx of advertisement into press houses. It managed to bring a lot of profits, though dailies are sold at 50 kyats a piece, instead of its actual cost—150 kyats per piece. Besides, dailies could earn much finance for the country.
Every weely, Kyemon dailies describes page for new generation, while the Sunday Cartoon Programme for children included weekly in Myanma Alin and Kyemon upgraded reading speed of children and concurrently lifted up art creation and spiritual and moral courages.
Having an access to criticize
Platform for people’s opinions, transparent things to be amended and letters to the editor are being described in Kyemon and Myanma Alin. Thus people can disclose their feelings, sufferings, problems, difficulties, anxieties and desires to the government in the constructive way, gaining direct effects almost every day.
11 National Ethnic Languages
MRTV broadcast traditional cultures and customs from national ethnic channel by using different techniques and presentations during one-year period when the new government took office, managing to revive ethnic language usages, cultures and traditions on the verge of extinction. In this period, by combining news sent by 11 local branches of 11 national ethnic languages with news from news branches from Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay, the system of sending news was modernized, according to MRTV, the Ministry of Information.
Digital type to be transformed
With changing into the democratic nation, MRTV is being fixed with installing transmitters and extending radio waves transmitting machines needed for Analogue Switch off Process, expected to commence digital TV and Radio broadcasts, in near future.
With the advancing information technologies, arrangements are being made for the people to get news and information online as digital papers to keep abreast with the time.
Interviewer: Let me know as to policies and further plans to be implemented by the Ministry of Information.
Dr Pe Myint: The Ministry of Information is the one that is spanning between the people and the government. To do so, we mainly perform the task of presenting news and information to reach our people. Here I would like to inform that, on the other hand, we are making our concerted efforts to develop the literary world and to feed knowledge to our people.
Thank you, Mr Union Minister!