US Deputy Chief of Mission Mr George Sibley explained the differences between ultra-nationalists and nationalists at a joint ceremony cementing a broadcast deal between Mizzima TV and Voice of America (VOA).
According to the broadcast deal, VOA Burmese TV news will be broadcast by Mizzima TV Channel every morning of the weekdays (from 8 am to 8:15 am).
Speaking at the event on the weekend, the US Deputy Chief of Mission Mr Sibley welcomed the deal and commented on an issue of current affairs.
“And I just want to say something about the difference between ultra-nationalism and nationalism. I would say that I am absolutely and proudly a nationalist. But I am absolutely not an ultra-nationalist. So, what is the difference between the two? I would say that both love their countries. I don’t say that ultra-nationalists don’t love their country, they do love their country,” he said.
“But they love their country uncritically, whereas nationalists love their country critically. An ultra-nationalist believes the nation is perfect as it is. But a nationalist believes it is a great country, but recognizes there are flaws and there are things that we can all do as citizens do to make it better.”
He continued, “Nationalists will think about criticisms and wonder what can we do to make our nation better? But an ultra-nationalist will take criticism as an offense, and perhaps even a jailable offense.”
“I mention this on this particular occasion because the press has such an important role to show us what is good and also what needs improvement in our societies and in our country. So thank you to VOA and thank you to Mizzima to help us understand our countries and to be better citizens,” he said.
Mr Sibley added that that “in today’s world, the economic pressures on a free and independent press are quite difficult all around the world, and especially so in Myanmar.”
Other guests commented on the importance of the event and Myanmar foreign relations.
Counsellor of the Indian Embassy Mr Pradeep Kumar Patel mentioned the importance of India-Myanmar relations.
“India and Myanmar being democracies and very close partners, we welcome, appreciate and respect the evolving democratic process in Myanmar,” he told the guests. “However, this is for the people and leadership of Myanmar to decide what is best for them.”
On the weekend in a press freedom seminar jointly organized by Mizzima and VOA, around 50 senior editors from media houses of the country who participated at the seminar discussed two issues - ‘How much media freedom is there in Myanmar’ and ‘Race, religion and nationalism in Media.’ The seminar was held at Wyndham Hotel in Yangon.