Myanmar abolished media censorship today, in the latest move in a series of rapid democratic reforms, delighting journalists who lived for decades under the shadow of the censors’ marker pen.
Draconian pre-publication checks — applied in the past to everything from newspapers to song lyrics and even fairy tales — were a hallmark of life under the generals who ran the country for almost half a century until last year.
Media reforms have already brought a lighter touch from the once ubiquitous censors, with less controversial publications freed from scrutiny last year.
Political and religious journals were the last to be allowed to go to press without pre-approval from the censors starting from Monday.
One exception is film censorship which remains in place, an information ministry official told AFP. Television journalists for their part “self censor” by asking for instructions about sensitive news, he added.
Since taking office last year, former general Thein Sein has overseen a number of dramatic changes such as the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.
Reporters jailed under the military government have also been freed from long prison sentences, and the decision to abolish censorship was greeted with sighs of relief in newsrooms around the main city Yangon.
A more open climate has already seen private weekly news journals publish an increasingly bold range of stories, most notably about opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose very name was taboo in the past.