Burma censor chief calls for more media freedom

The head of Burma's powerful press censorship department has called for greater media freedom in his country.

Tint Swe said censorship was incompatible with democratic practices and should be abolished in the near future.

The comments will be seen as further evidence that the new civilian-military hybrid government is trying to soften its stance.

Burma is said to have the world's most heavily censored media.

But recent reforms suggest that real change could be in prospect.

Some previously blocked websites are now accessible.

Newspapers have been allowed to publish photographs and reports about the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, something that would have been unthinkable a year ago before her release after years of house arrest.

Now the man in charge of media restrictions says censorship should be abolished altogether.

Tint Swe, who made his remarks in an interview with Radio Free Asia, cautioned however that all publications should accept the responsibilities that go with press freedom, though he didn't spell out what those responsibilities might be.

His comments will be seen by many as another sign of the new administration's determination to reform.

How far and how deep those reforms might eventually be is now the subject of intense debate in diplomatic circles.

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