President U Thein Sein set to operate a personal website?

By Htoo Aung
Volume 32, No. 627
May 21 - 27, 2012

PRESIDENT U Thein Sein is set to launch his own website – e-President Portal – covering news of his daily activities and to communicate with the public.

The website address was activated on May 9 but without functions enabling users to email or post comments.

On May 10 the site was temporarily closed, showing a simple message: “e-President Portal is currently under maintenance. We should be back shortly. Thank you for your patience.”

The site will be operated by the president’s office information department and will trial in both Myanmar and English.

But when contacted by The Myanmar Times, the president’s office declined to comment on whether the website was genuine.

U Thaung Su Nyein, secretary of the Myanmar Computer Professionals Association, however, confirmed the website was real and that it showed a positive signal from the top of government.

“I am pleased [about the setting up of the website] because in other countries, not only presidents, but also township administers have their own websites and social network accounts.

“I look forward to other ministers setting up their own websites,” he said.

Other computer industry experts expressed support but were quick to highlight potential dangers.

“If it is correct, I think it is a positive move but there may be certain difficulties as well,” said U Zaw Min Oo, secretary of the Myanmar Computer Industry Association. “There could be technical problems as many other websites and even the White House’s official site receive attacks,” he said.

The move was also commended for its potential to engage the public in the political process and facilitate greater awareness.

“If the president sets up this website, he will use it to post official announcements and information from government media,” said U Zaw Min Oo.

U Wuntha, chief editor of People’s Age journal welcomed the move, saying it would help the media industry cover political developments.

“I saw the website yesterday [May 9] and it is very good. The site offers a means of communication between the public and president as the public can upload comments on the site. It is also good for people who want to know what the president is doing and his movements,” he said.

Professor Aung Tun Thet, Senior Advisor at the UN Resident Coordinator’s office added that it would improve government public relations.

“If the site is more interactive, it will be good for both the president and the public. It helps the president and public become closer.

“We always talk about greater transparency and this shows that to the public.

“In other countries, governments have their own websites to show that they are accountable,” he said.

“I would suggest that all government offices have their own websites.”

The website can be accessed on: http://203.81.81.136/e-President.