Allegations fly as Myanmar Times makes changes

Burma’s only newspaper with foreign investment has announced that a new editor-in-chief will take over the position held by Ross Dunkley, who was detained last week in Rangoon.

It comes as rumours about the reasons for the Australian citizen’s arrest swirl, with alleged charges ranging from possession of marijuana to violation of immigration laws.

But a more sinister accusation was today levelled at Dunkley by the domestic Myanmar Newsweek journal, who claimed he “has been charged at Kamaryut township [Rangoon] police station for abusing a woman”.

This however has not been echoed elsewhere, and there is speculation that his arrests relates to a power struggle in the upper echelons of the parent company, Myanmar Consolidated Media (MCM).

A statement released this afternoon by MCM said that Dunkley, who is being held at Insein prison in Rangoon, will be tried on immigration charges.

Dr Tin Tun Oo will replace Dunkley as the company’s chief executive officer, the statement added, while Bill Clough, owner of Australian oil giant Twinza Oil, will become editor-in-chief of English-language daily.

Tin Tun Oo had been co-owner of the Myanmar Times and is also a member of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which won Burma’s elections last year. He had resigned his post at the Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association in order to compete in the polls.

The Australian embassy in Rangoon is believed to be providing consular assistance to Dunkley, who founded the Myanmar Times in 2000. Under Burmese law, he can own a maximum of 49 percent of the company, leaving Tin Tun Oo to control 51 percent.

Dunkley is due to appear in court in Rangoon on Thursday.

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