Burma: Chinese feel the heat from Directive 51

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Oliver Spencer

22 Aug 2012


It's emerged today that the Chinese are feeling the heat from the 'reforms' process in neighbouring Burma. 

In an editorial by editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin, in the Communist Party's English-language newspaper, Global Times, the government was warned not to follow the reforms process in Burma.

“China should follow the trend of the times and look at the practical situation of the nation, rather than being perplexed and even letting backwater countries like Myanmar and Vietnam become our idols.”

Meanwhile, the newest Directive, number 51, has now been translated into English. The Directive ends the need for pre-publication censorship for current affairs newspapers in Burma, as we covered yesterday.

However, its reference to the 1962 printers’ and publishers’ registration law and its list of dangerous topics shows that the government will be serious about prosecuting journalists who step out of line.

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar

Ministry of Information

The supervision Central Committee of Printers’ and Publishers’

Registration and Press Scrutiny and Distribution

3rd waxing day of Wakhaung, 1374

August 20, 2012

Directive 51

1. As the policies of the press scrutiny is being reformed according to the present circumstances phase by phase, journals, magazines and manuscripts relating to celebrities, health, child, technology and sport on June 10, 2011, as the second phase, economic and crime and law on December 9, 2011, as the third phase, educational on March 1, 2012, and, as the fourth phase, novel manuscripts on May 15, 2012, were shifted into Group 1 allowing to publish in the way publishing goes first and then is followed by submission to press scrutiny dept.

2. News journals, political and historical magazines and manuscripts, religions journals, magazines and manuscripts, calendars, postcards, formal messages, songs, embassies’ literature and general manuscripts which remained in Group 2 were allowed to publish in the way publishing goes first and then is followed by submission to press scrutiny dept from the date this directive was issued.

3. Publishers are directed to publish according to the provisions in Directive 46 and whenever books and periodicals they published are distributed according to Directive 48, distribution of the books and periodicals shall be done only after their circulation is filed to this office.

4. The following directives and orders issued by this team were revoked: 
a. Directive: Directive No. 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 18, 21, 22, 23, 25, 27, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41, 44 and 47
b. Order: Order No. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21 and 22

Soe Win


To: All printers and publishers


8. Printers and publishers can effectively help bring benefit to the country and its people by strictly adhering to the 1962 printers’ and publishers’ registration law, bye-laws, orders and directives.

The points to be strictly based on for publishing

(a) Political

  1. Three national causes shall not be hurt.
  2. The policies of the State and the Government shall not be criticized negatively.
  3. The items which could hurt friendship with other countries shall not be run.
  4. News about corruption, manufacturing and dealing in illegal narcotic drugs, forced labour and child soldier, etc. shall not be covered without having source reliability.
  5. The style of writing which incites or encourages individuals and organizations which oppose and disturb the State shall not be published.

(b) Economic

  1. The economic policies of the State shall not be criticized negatively.
  2. The economic data, news, articles and photos which come from unreliable sources shall not be run.

(c) Social

  1. Revealing parts of body which is not appropriate to reveal according to Myanmar culture and wearing clothes and body postures which do not correspond to Myanmar norm, shall not be run.
  2. Sport event forecasts which may happen to encourage gambling shall not be run.
  3. Supernatural stories like ghost, guardian spirits of treasure trove and desiccated foetus shall not bear illogical items that may mislead children and youths.
  4. Liquor and cigarette advertisements shall not be published.
  5. Photos of committing juvenile crimes shall not be run.
  6. The news and photos which are appalling to the public shall not be run.
  7. Terminology of Theravada Buddhism shall not be used in other religious literature.

(d) General

  1. News source and evidence like time, venue and name of organization shall be quoted when the weak points of departmental and private activities are pointed out and criticized.
  2. Titles of news and books shall be translated and described in Myanmar as literal as possible, rather than in English.


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