Tongsan Media Group Inc. (TSM) is an independent news agency that primarily covers Chin/Zoland, Manipur, and Mizoram. It focuses on issues related to the Zosuan (Zonahtlak) community in Myanmar who use and speak Tedim or Zokam dialects. TSM is dedicated to delivering reliable and accurate news on a daily basis. The name “Tongsan Media Group” reflects the goal of facilitating information exchange among the Zo people through modern information technology.
The name “TONG” represents spoken words, while “SAN” represents receiving words from individuals and communities. When combined, “TONGSAN” signifies the exchange of information. Thus, the abbreviated name “TSM” refers to Tongsan Media Group. Tongsan Media Group Inc. was established in Kalaymyo in 2001 under the initial name “Zo Aw,” meaning “The Voice of Zomi.” Unfortunately, it was discontinued in December 2005 due to prohibition by the military Junta (Military Investigation-MI), who disapproved of the name “The Voice of Zomi” called (Zo Aw).
However, the founder and visionary Pastor Thang Sian Kham, also known as Tongsan Pu, persevered and attempted to relaunch the media outlet under a different name with permission from the military Junta. In June 2006, Tongsan Media Group received permission to resume publication, which brought joy to Pastor Thang Sian Kham and his wife. They restarted the media group under the name “Tongsan Media Group” and initiated the publication of Tongsan Weekly Journal, Vol. (1), No. (1) from the beginning.
Tongsan Media Group Inc. is located in Kalaymyo, Northwestern Sagaing Region, Myanmar, with a population of approximately 348573 comprising various minority ethnic groups and dialects, including a significant number of Zo people who speak the Tedim dialect. TSM Inc. has been recognized by the government of Myanmar since 2014. Due to the repressive Press Security Act in Myanmar, accurate information is scarce, and the people of Myanmar and Chin state have limited access to national and international news. The circulation of local and state news is completely prohibited. Freedom of the press and expression are denied to the people, and state-controlled media outlets serve as propagandas machines for the military Junta regime.
Tongsan Media Group aims to provide factual and reliable news from the Sagaing Region, Kalay Kabaw Valley, and particularly Chin state, which is overlooked by mainstream Burmese press and opposition media in exile. The media group strives to bridge this information gap. Tongsan Media Group advocates for people’s opinions in a democratic manner. It supports the right to freedom of expression and information, countering the state-controlled media.
The Press Security Act imposes strict censorship and dictates from the military regime on anyone wishing to express their views, including through written or audio-visual means. Consequently, no independent newspapers or magazines have been able to flourish in Chin State or Zoland as a whole.
Kalaymyo lies in a rustic part of Sagaing Division, very close to the border with Chin State; much of the population belongs to the ethnic Chin group, and Kalaymyo is the gateway to northern Chin State. Kalaymyo is alternately known as Kalaymyo’ means town in Burmese).
Most Chin are devout Christians (as opposed to the Buddhist majority in Myanmar), and this gives Kalaymyo a fascinating cultural mix – the town is split down the middle between the Chin and Bamar groups. There are said to be over 600 churches in the city, some only frequented by two or three families. The majority are Baptist, but there are also churches belonging to a range of other denominations, including Catholic, Assemblies of God of Myanmar, Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church of Myanmar, United Pentecostal Church, Evangelical Baptist Church, 7th Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witnesses and more.
Such are the levels of religious observance that many houses in in Kalaymyo have signs proudly displaying what church the occupiers belong to; many churches can be found on the main east – west road running through Kalaymyo, particularly on the west side of town where most ethnic Chin live.
By: Dr. Thang Sian Kham ( Tongsan Pu)
Founder and CEO