Union Information Minister U Maung Maung Ohn replies to questions raised by Ms Kana Takagi, the reporter from the Mainichi Shimbun from Japan

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The interviewee MoI Union Minister U Maung Maung Ohn and the interviewer Ms Kana Takagi from Japan's Mainichi Shimbun (Daily Newspaper).

Union Minister for Information U Maung Maung Ohn gave a virtual interview to Ms Kana Takagi, the reporter from the Mainichi Shimbun from Japan on the morning of 17 February.
Reporter Ms Kana Takagi asked about the schedules of Myanmar to admit international passenger flights and the situation to accept them, the topic whether the government is difficult to control expanding of social media, reviews over the press freedom, plans to reissue the licences to banned local media, the expectation of the Ministry of Information for foreign media to present the types of information, reviews over the local economy within one year after the State Administration Council has taken responsibilities, process to lure foreign companies to invest in the country, handover of business management to a new government who will come out from the forthcoming election, remarks over the Rakhine State when the Union minister served as the Chief Minister of the Rakhine State, and attitudes of Rakhine political parties over PR system being prepared for the coming election.
In his response, the Union minister replied that arrangements are being made to resume international flights. At present, such a plan is suspended till the end of February due to infection of the Omicron variant. Despite such kinds of restrictions, relief flights to transport citizens returning home and foreigners, the flights for transport of commodities and medical equipment and emergency flights are arranged. The flights for just travelling are restricted temporarily. Depending on controlling the COVID-19 pandemic in Myanmar and other countries, the flights will be resumed.
Our government does not control the use of social media. Websites are allowed to open. People need to efficiently apply social media, and the Ministry of Information arranges public awareness for applying social media. The information team of the State Administration Council holds the press conference once a month to issue the information and data. The websites of MRTV and MOI post the true news. The Union minister said he led the press briefing to the foreign diplomats.
It is difficult to control the information on social media. Efforts are being made to disseminate true news to the people. MOI and MRTV disseminating the true information were removed from YouTube and Facebook. As the people face fake news and false news on a daily basis, causing weakness, arrangements are being made to broadcast the true news in continuation so as to have the advantages.
The government does not prohibit press freedom. Press freedom should be alive. But media need to abide by rules and regulations and the government and the media need to have mutual respect. Our country has enacted the news media law. If the media comply with such a law, any problem will come out. But, media need to have responsibility and accountability for the broadcasting of news and the news must have firm sources. If they strictly abide by the disciplines, there is no reason to ban them.
The Ministry of Information fully gives the rights of the press to the news agencies and media in accord with the provisions of the law. Section 354 of the Constitution states that every citizen shall be at liberty in the exercise of the following rights, if not contrary to the laws, enacted for Union security, the prevalence of law and order, community peace and tranquillity or public order and morality to express and publish freely their convictions and opinions. The news media law was enacted with the aim of emerging the media with the rights of free expression and publishing and the entitlement and freedom of media.
The Chapter III of the news media law mentions the entitlement of media persons and Chapter IV mentions the duties and ethics of media. All the news without opposing the laws of the State and the interests of the State can be freely expressed. Emphasis is being placed on press freedom. With regard to press freedom, the press scrutiny system was revoked after 2012. The Prime Minister recognizes the media sector as the fourth estate and fully allows press freedom. All media need to do their work under the law.
If they comply with the press ethics and law, we don’t have any reason to ban them. Currently, I hope that social media does not express the news harming the sovereignty of the State and national unity and hate speech. If you want to know whether these news items are one-sided opinions and fabricated news or true ones, contact us. I’d like to expose the reality and true news. The news without limitation is dangerous. It does not contribute to the peace and stability of the State. Some media and agencies infringing on disciplines were banned. Reissuance of licences to local media and agencies depends on their activities. The Ministry of Information will give back licences to them if they express and broadcast the news focusing on the Perpetuation of Sovereignty, Non-disintegration of the Union and Non-disintegration of national solidarity. The ministry wishes to join hands with the media by easing the restrictions as much as possible. So, all media have been invited. If the media focus on national cause and public cause, licences will be given back to them.
At a time when the State Administration Council took the State responsibilities, the State economy has declined due to the outbreak of COVID-19 similar to other global countries. It can be said that many factories and industries resumed their operations. The withdrawal of some companies was dependent on politics. They left here due to violent acts and setting fire by NUG and PDF terrorist groups. As of 2 February 2021, the government has allowed 18 foreign direct investment projects and 15 Myanmar citizen investment projects. So far, more than US$3,823 million was allowed for 12 investment sectors for 44 businesses from 1 February 2021 to 31 January 2022. In this regard, US$3,062 million was allowed for the electricity sector as the largest amount. More than US$237 million was invested in other service sectors. The industrial sector was invested with more than US$199 million. The total foreign investment worth US$3,823 million comprises US$2,504 million from the UK, US$516 million from Japan and US$442 million from Singapore.
This year’s inflow of FDI was 128 projects of investments less than that of last year but the investment amount increased to US$558.339 million. So, foreign investments created jobs for 24,258 local workers and citizen investments, 11,704 workers, totalling 35,962.
Efforts are being made to regularize the border trade with the main trade partner China. The Myanmar kyat and Chinese yuan direct payment systems are being implemented successfully. There are many countries wishing to invest in Myanmar. For example, work requirements are being solved at the Thilawa Special Economic Zone where the majority of Japanese entrepreneurs operate their businesses. As riots are down in Myanmar, schools reopen. The State Administration Council has successfully controlled its functions. Economic development more than now will be realized in 2022.
The root cause of the withdrawal of foreign companies is the push of their mother countries. And, some of them left here due to terrorist acts of NUG and PDF groups. Some companies left here during the COVID-19 period. But many companies have come back. As of May 2021, the government endorsed business visas and allowed relief flights for more than 3,200 companies. A total of 9,010 foreigners returned here. Due to the pressures of foreign countries, some companies left here while some new companies entered the country. The government takes returns of international companies and puts investment in Myanmar into consideration. The government gives firm guarantees to investors and protects their business profits in accord with international standards.
So far, the Myanmar Economic Recovery Plan-MERP is being implemented as quickly as possible. The plan comprises 10 work programmes, 30 visions, 165 outcomes and 430 work procedures. Although it is a short- and medium-term plan, some procedures will be implemented in the long run. The plan mentions the first point for guarantees for international investors, the second point for economic norms of the international community, the third point for security measures and the fourth point for measures to ease restrictions if necessary. International investors should not believe the exaggerated information disseminated by those outside the country and they are deeply invited to safely invest in Myanmar.
When the provisions of the State of Emergency have been completed, efforts are being made to implement the promise to hold the election. It is necessary to conveniently cast votes in the general election of the country without losing the rights of democracy. Only when peace and stability are prevailed for holding the election, will the people safely cast votes. If so, it will be a free and fair election. All the people need to join hands with the government for its endeavours for restoring the peace and stability of the State. At a time when the provisions of the State of Emergency have been completed, a free and fair multiparty democracy election will be held in accord with the Constitution (2008) in order to hand over the State duties to the winning party in line with the democratic norms.
No matter what any government comes out, MIC Law cannot be changed. All the investments allowed by the existing government must be allowed by the forthcoming government. We continuously allow the projects adopted by the previous governments. According to the MIC law, all investors need to believe that the businesses allowed by our government must be continued by the coming government. The Myanmar Investment Commission has issued the prioritized invested businesses. These are manufacturing of fertilizers, cement, steel wares, agriculture and livestock businesses and related tasks, production of value-added foodstuffs, manufacturing of electric automobile, production of medicines and health equipment and public transport service. Investments are invited to these sectors. The government gives firm guarantees for these investments with a plan to develop the State economy. As arrangements are being made to create job opportunities for local people and exchange of techniques for economic development, I’d like to extend the invitation to the investors to Myanmar.
In my view, Rakhine parties are still considering the PR system. A total of 62 political parties agreed to the PR system due to the trend of the meetings. Germany, Italy, Norway, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Thailand and Switzerland are exercising the PR system. Today’s track leads to democracy and federalism, so the PR system benefits greatly. Before leading to democracy and federalism, ethnic states wish to manage their states. In implementing democracy and federalism, I believe that they would have the deserved rights and the management for their states.
So, they may accept the PR system. Good results came out from the meetings with ethnic armed organizations.
If Rakhine parties trust in the government, they will accept the PR system. I myself build the trust together with ethnics for enabling Rakhine parties to accept the PR system the majority of political parties accepted. —MNA

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