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Jailed Australian editor loses Myanmar Times roles

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Anthony Galloway's picture
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Joined: 17-Dec-08
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The Australian editor and founder of the Myanmar Times has been stripped of his editorial and executive roles following his arrest earlier this month on immigration charges, the newspaper reported Monday.

Associates have suggested Ross Dunkley's detention on Feb. 10 for allegedly overstaying his visa actually stems from a business dispute with his local partners in the publishing venture. The arrest could raise concerns among foreign investors about the risks of getting involved in joint ventures in Myanmar.

The Myanmar Times reported Monday that its parent company, Myanmar Consolidated Media, had named Tin Tun Oo, Dunkley's local partner and publisher, editor-in-chief of the newspaper's Myanmar-language edition and chief executive of Myanmar Consolidated Media.

One of the paper's foreign investors, Australian Bill Clough, will become chief editor of the English-language edition and acting managing director of Myanmar Consolidated Media, the newspaper said.

Dunkley, who has been held in Yangon's notorious Insein Prison since his arrest, is expected to appear in court for the first time Thursday and could face a fine and up to two years in prison if found guilty.

Dunkley is known for founding English-language newspapers, often with a business emphasis, in authoritarian countries. He started a similar venture in communist Vietnam in the 1990s and bought Cambodia's well-established but financially weak Phnom Penh Post two years ago. He founded the Myanmar Times in 2000 during a period of relative liberalization under the ruling junta.

After Dunkley's arrest, his partner at the Phnom Penh Post, David Armstrong, issued a statement saying the detention came during "tense and protracted discussions" Dunkley had been holding with his Myanmar business partners.

Tin Tun Oo, who holds a 51 percent stake in the company, ran as a candidate of a military-backed party in November elections but lost.

Myanmar's long-ruling junta is preparing to hand over the reins of government to a new, nominally civilian government packed with its allies. With the military expected to continue to exercise power from behind the scenes, no loosening of restrictions on the press is expected. All daily newspapers and electronic media are directly controlled by the government.

The Myanmar Times, a weekly publication, uses many professional journalism conventions -- naming sources, portraying opposing sides of issues -- though it generally holds back when it comes to criticizing the government, which tightly restricts what is published.

Source: http://www.businessweek.com

Photo: www.perthnow.com.au

Insein Prison, what sort of name is that?

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