Cabinet talks of media access

During the meet the press conference yesterday in the capital the education minister in response to a question said the ministry did not issue any instructions disallowing central schools to speak to media.

“I need to check what kind of instructions have been received by the central schools, there seems to be untold deep-seated frustrations and resentments that there is no access for the media,” he said.

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said that today in Bhutan you have a situation where reporters and journalists from different media can just walk into schools and get their work done. “We saw BBS reporting on different central schools and this is the level of freedom Bhutanese media savor in our country. They can just walk in our school premises and interview students and teacher without seeking proper permission from the school principal,” the minister said.

“For instance, in countries with high degree of press freedom like Norway, Sweden and Finland, if you want to walk into school premises, you will need to at least get the permission from school principal.”

The minister said that perhaps the Dzongda might have issued an instruction not to allow students and teachers to speak to media and this is something that we would like to find out. “Right now we can only speculate why the Dzongda had issued, if it was issued, and perhaps understanding the implication of media on students, the Dzongda might have issued the instruction. Many are aware that as a government, we have been as accessible and transparent as possible,” Lyonpo said. “Our Prime Minister, meets young reporters during the meet the press conference and places media as the top priority. He also meets the senior reporters and editors every Friday. That is the level of accessibility of media in our country.”

Lyonpo also said that it was reported that the media was not allowed to attend the Dzongdas’ Conference. “I would like to clarify that the Dzongdas’ Conference is a working meeting and they would not feel comfortable talking in front of so many cameras. If they wish they can issue a press release,” the minister said.

The Prime Minister said that this is the 23rd annual Dzongda’s conference and except for the opening ceremony it is closed to the media asking why it is being made a issue only this year.

Lyonpo Dorji Choden said that some journalists perceive that there is no freedom of press but she asked she would like to know what it is that the government is trying to control, hide and not give information on when everything is accessible.

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