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The Myanmar Journalist Network (MJN) has condemned the recently disbanded Sunlight Weekly News journal for unethical journalism following the publication of “personal attacks” aimed at the grandson of former military strongman Than Shwe.
A statement issued on Wednesday by the MJN – which is just one of several associations representing Burmese journalists – criticised the Sunlight Weekly News for publishing personal attacks and what it termed an “exaggeration of facts” not in conformity with the ethical guidelines set out by the interim Myanmar Press Council.
Operations at the Sunlight Weekly News ground to a halt last month amid a controversy after it had published an article suggesting Than Shwe’s grandson, Nay Shwe Thway Aung, and the Miss Myanmar Universe winner, Moe Set Wine, were having an affair. However, its printers began running again within a week, resuming circulation under a new name: The Sun Rays Weekly News Journal, or “Thuria Newun” as it is known in Burmese.
“It is okay to publish opinions, but some people like to think that making personal and political attacks in the media is a part of journalism,” said MJN general secretary Myint Kyaw. “Seasoned news readers in other countries can tell the difference, but readers in Burma are presently unclear about which is which. We are concerned this could promote the idea that the media should be controlled by the government.”
The MJN statement said that publishing contentious material may lead the public to lose trust in the news media and said that the association condemned the exploitation of the media for “individual popularity” and “political advantage”.
Moe Hein, former CEO of the Sunlight Weekly and now chief editor of the The Sun Rays Weekly News Journal, said he does not acknowledge the MJN’s statement and questioned the association’s connection with the government and its cronies.
“I would like to ask: are the people who criticise me free from the influence of [government] authorities and cronies? Both the Sunlight Weekly and The Sun Rays Weekly News Journal practice the same ethics standardised in the world’s leading democracies such as the US and the UK,” he said. “One day, the media standard in Burma will be the same as international standards, but until then, we do not acknowledge [these critics] judging us with their own standards.”