Even before censorship was loosened after President Thein Sein took office, there was a wide variety of press. Around 100 weekly newspapers and many monthly magazines reported on a wide range of topics, including current political and economic developments. However, only the state-controlled newspapers Myanma Alin (New Light of Myanmar) and Kyemon (Spiegel) appeared daily, the former also in English translation (today: The Global New Light of Myanmar). The only weekly newspaper that appeared in English for a long time was the Myanmar Times, founded in 2000 by an Australian journalist and a Burmese counterpart which has been published daily since March 2015. Due to criminal proceedings against both founders, the newspaper has now passed into other hands.
Press censorship was officially lifted in August 2012. Since April 1, 2013, daily newspapers other than those controlled by the government have appeared. Not all newspapers for which a license was approved have survived on the market. There are big problems with funding and distribution. The organizations ” Reporters Without Borders ” and Freedom House give a critical overview of the development of the media. In the current ranking from 2020, Myanmar ranks 139th out of 169.
According to pharmacylib, the broadcasting of radio programs in Burma began in 1936. From independence until today, radio has been under state control. As a result, the stations have little credibility among the population. That is why broadcasters that broadcast news from abroad in Burmese languages such as the BBC, Voice of America and Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), headquartered in Oslo, play a major role in shaping opinion in the country. Recently, representatives of these media, who have been very critical of the country’s military government, have also been represented in the country with official correspondents and training programs. There are plans, in addition to the already existing radio stations and regional stations set up whose programs are broadcast by satellite. The Broadcasting Act passed in 2015 places broadcasting under direct state control.
The state television has five channels, including one for the ethnic minorities. The Democratic Voice of Burma has also broadcast a television program to Myanmar since 2005. Foreign television programs such as Deutsche Welle can be freely received via satellite.
Access to the Internet is possible anywhere. However, due to the lack of infrastructure, the transmission speed is sometimes very low. Since the liberalization of the media in 2012, the number of internet cafes has decreased significantly. Despite the lifting of censorship on online news, the government can still control the Internet.
Post, telecommunications and the Internet
The post in the country is considered not very reliable. Sending goods into the country is difficult because the customs formalities are still very cumbersome and sometimes expensive. DHL and Schenker are represented at German logistics companies in the country.
Telephoning is not a problem. But since the landline lines are often overloaded, purchasing a SIM card is the easiest option. The cost has dropped from several hundred US dollars to around 1.50 US dollars in recent years. The Internet often works better with SIM cards than the WLAN in hotels and restaurants. The cards can be loaded with different amounts as desired.
Most hotels and restaurants catering to international guests have Internet access. There are plenty of cheap internet cafes (300-500 kyat per hour). The speeds of Internet access are very different.
On November 7, 2005, the information minister informed the ruling military junta in Myanmar that the day before the relocation of ministries to a new capital 320 km north of Yangon had begun. In the international press, surprised by this news, the name of the new capital was named Pyinmana – a town with a train station in Central Burma, near which the new town had been built since 2002. There has been, and has been, a range of speculation about the reasons for the move. An official statement was never released.
It was believed by observers that the xenophobic military wanted to forestall an invasion of the ancient capital by the sea, or that astrologers would have advised the measure. Another interpretation suggests the name of the city, which was announced on March 27, 2006, the day of the armed forces, at the official inauguration. “Naypyidaw” – mostly translated as “royal capital” – literally means “royal sun city” and was previously the nickname for Mandalay, the last capital of the Burmese kings. In the third Anglo-Burmese war in 1885 it was occupied by the British, and the last king was exiled from there to India. The coastal town of Yangon, which had never been the seat of government before, was built by the British as the new capital. It is probable that the military continued the old tradition of the Burmese kings, to mark a new epoch of history by changing the capital. The junta saw the move as a sign that it was leading the country into a new future and that the era in which the country had been ruled from a metropolis founded by foreign conquerors was now over. Naypyidaw is thus a symbol for a “new Myanmar”, as the leading military envisaged.
Another motive underlying the construction of other new capitals was that of strengthening the parts of the country outside of the only large metropolis. In addition, Naypyidaw is located in the center of the country, so to a certain extent it unites the often separate regions of Upper and Lower Myanmar. At the same time, the new capital has more direct control over the neighboring areas where ethnic minorities live.
Naypyidaw has expanded over time. The urban area is clearly divided into various government districts, residential areas, military zones, shopping centers as well as hotel and leisure areas. The newly built pagodas also include a replica of the Schwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. The new Uppanasanti Pagoda, however, is one meter smaller and is not coated with gold leaf. Below the large pagodas there are accommodations for the recently discovered white elephants in the country, which traditionally promise good luck for the respective regents and the whole country. These symbols make it clear that the new center, with all its modernity, is a continuation of the traditions of old Burma.
Naypyidaw offers a very green picture with many artificial lakes, parks and wide roads. It is a separate region that is under the direct administration of the President and is home to more than a million people, including the residents of neighboring Pyinmana, which still has the character of a typical small town in the country. Tourists rarely visit the city.