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September 20, 2019

Avoid fake news at election time

  • Media plays an important role in all democratic elections because it can educate voters by providing a comparative analysis of relevant issues.
    On the one hand, it keeps voters informed about the priorities and programs of different political parties and candidates. Unless voters know which candidate stands where on which issues, they will not be able to properly exercise their electoral rights.
    That is why media plays an important role in holding a free and fair election. The Union Election Commission alone cannot carry out the tasks of civic education and voter education.
    To have a free and fair election, the assistance of the media and electoral organizations is much needed. The media, the fourth pillar of a democracy, plays a critical role in the functioning of every democracy, and a democratic election would never be possible without the media.
    A free and fair election is not only about the freedom to vote and the knowledge of how to cast a vote, but also about a participatory process in which voters engage in public debate and have adequate information about parties, policies, candidates and the election process, itself, in order to make informed choices. Therefore, the media acts a conduit, as well as a watchdog, to ensure democratic elections and transparency.
    Local and foreign media, and international observers, have been invited since the 2015 general elections. With the cooperation of the Myanmar Press Council (formerly the Myanmar Media Council) election guides and media ethics for elections were published. This has provided a great help to the Union Election Commission because media coverage of elections was conducted without problems, due to the guidelines and ethics.
    The Union Election Commission is committed to holding the 2020 general elections while meeting five standards: free and fair elections, transparency, acceptability and compatibility with the public’s desire to reflect the results of election.
    The UEC has released its performances and announcements through state-run print and broadcast media, and also posted relevant information on its website.
    To encourage the right of access for information, a member of the commission has been appointed as a spokesperson of the UEC. The UEC also holds occasional press conferences.
    The media, playing the role of a free and responsible media, must have adequate regard for facts and objectivity, and should avoid reporting biased news and fake news that spreads hate speech, as it can cause unnecessary consequences in the elections.
    Media is urged to abide by the media ethics and election guidelines in its electoral coverage.

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