‘Details please,’ press council asks of Phyo Min Thein in dispute with Reuters

‘Details please,’ press council asks of Phyo Min Thein in dispute with Reuters

The Myanmar Press Council has sent a letter to Rangoon Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein in response to a complaint he filed over a Reuters article published earlier this month that scrutinised his handling of a major bus purchase by the regional government he leads.

The deal, for hundreds of buses made by Chinese companies, was inked since Phyo Min Thein assumed his powerful post in the commercial capital last year.

The chief minister, a member of the ruling National League for Democracy, lodged a complaint with the Myanmar Press Council (MPC) on 13 August over the offending article, saying it was “factually incorrect.”

But the MPC wants more information before it proceeds in its role as a mediating body in disputes involving the press.

“The complaint does not specify which aspects of the articles were ‘incorrect,’” Zayar Hlaing, a member of the MPC, told DVB.

“When we read the complaint letter, we cannot find any [specified] incorrect facts. If one files a complaint, he should specify which facts are ‘incorrect’ and how that puts him at a loss. For that reason, we replied [advising] him to fill out the News Media by-law Form B. We have not received any reply yet,” Zayar Hlaing added.

The Reuters article, published on 7 August, said the bus purchases had “caused an unusual rift” within the NLD, quoting some members of the party critising Phyo Min Thein’s government as lacking in transparency. The offending article did note that there was no evidence to suggest that any laws were broken in the procurement process.

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The bus buy is part of a major overhaul of Rangoon’s public transportation system that was rolled out earlier this year.

Phyo Min Thein also features in a high-profile defamation suit currently before the courts involving the local news outlet Eleven Media. An editorial by the publication, in which the NLD-led government was taken to task for its early record in office, said the party’s leaders had “failed to tackle corruption and crony capitalism,” and insinuated that the Rangoon chief minister himself may have been tainted by graft.

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