The Vice Minister of the Ministry of Information announced on September 4 that the MMK 50 million donation from the President's Office to the Myanmar Press Council (Interim) will not threaten freedom of the press.
He made the announcement while handing over the donation to the office of the Press Council at Bahan Township, Yangon.
“The MMK 50 million was donated as funding from the President's Office to help solve financial problems that the MPC has been facing. It was a humble gesture to the Chairman of the MPC and we do not hope to gain anything from it”, said Vice Minister U Pike Htway.
Internet web pages and social networking sites have been circulating the news that the donated amount came from the President’s personal funds. There are also debates on whether the MPC should have accepted the donations. Some critics have also pointed out that the timing of the donation is crucial as the government and the MPC are at loggerheads on the Media Bill Draft, at present.
The donation was accepted by U Khin Maung Aye, Chairman of the Press Council.
U Kyaw Min Swe, Secretary of the MPC said that the donation was from the Union Budget and it was free from bonds, since it is not from the President’s personal earnings.
“The President's Office did not give the entire MMK 50 million in one go. They called us the next day for it. The donation will not waver the objectives and stand of the Press Council. We will continue to work towards fulfilling our initial objectives”, said U Kyaw Min Swe.
He also mentioned that the Press Council has been operating independently since its formation in September 2012. Moreover, they have the liberty to accept bond-free donations according to a statute in the Media Law.
“I would like to make a humble request to everyone to judge us from the work we have accomplished", U Kyaw Min Swe said on the criticisms censure they have receive on internet webpages.
He added that they have not made any decisions on how to manage and utilize the donation. The Council plans to carry out projects for media-persons and start training courses where they would invite foreign media professionals with the funds donated by external organizations.
Since its formation last September the Press Council has settled a total of 34 media related cases.