Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Publisher arrested

Publisher arrested

Publisher arrested


 

Ross Dunkley, the publisher of The Phnom Penh Post, has been arrested by Myanmar authorities in Yangon on suspicion of violating the country’s immigration laws.

In a statement on Saturday, David Armstrong, chairman of Post Media Ltd, said Dunkley, who is also CEO and editor-in-chief of the weekly Myanmar Times, was arrested on Thursday under Section 13(1) of Myanmar’s Immigration (Emergency Provisions) Act after returning from a business trip to Japan.

Armstrong expressed “deep concern” over the arrest, which he said was linked to recent talks between Dunkley and Burmese shareholders over the direction of the publication.

“A key point about the arrest is timing,” Armstrong said. “It coincides with tense and protracted discussions Mr Dunkley and the foreign ownership partners in the Myanmar Times have been conducting with local partners.”

He said the disagreements had concerned “ownership issues and senior leadership roles”.

Armstrong said Dunkley, 55, is being held at Yangon’s Insein prison and is due in court for a hearing on February 24.

“His lawyers in Yangon say Mr Dunkley is confident he can answer any charges or allegations made against him and is looking forward to returning to lead the Myanmar Times group in the exciting times ahead,” he said.

Moun Ramady, CEO of Post Media Ltd, said he was concerned about Dunkley’s well-being, but declined to comment in detail due to the ongoing investigation.

“Our business will be running as usual,” he said.

Min Sein, Dunkley’s lawyer, could not be reached.

The Myanmar Times is published by Myanmar Consolidated Media Group Ltd, the only media organisation in military-ruled Myanmar that has foreign investors.

According to reports, Dunkley holds a 49 percent stake in the company, with the remaining 51 percent held by Tin Tun Oo, a member of the state-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.

A major shareholder in MCM is Bill Clough, an Australian mining magnate who is also the CEO of Twinza Oil, which in 2006 signed a US$30 million deal to explore oil reserves off Myanmar’s southern coast.

Clough is also an investor in The Phnom Penh Post.

Aung Zaw, editor and founder of The Irrawaddy magazine, a Thailand-based exile publication, said it was hard to speculate about the causes of Dunkley’s arrest, but added that early information indicated it was indeed related to an attempt to force him to relinquish his stake in the paper.

He said the  foreign owners of the paper had been under particular pressure since 2008, when the Times was ordered to suspend publication for a week after it ran an unauthorised article about a government decision to raise satellite television fees.

Aung Zaw said he long suspected the paper’s local partners would seek to oust its foreign investors.

The Myanmar Times was set up in 2000 as a joint venture between Dunkley and Sonny Swe, the son of Brigadier General Thein Shwe, a close ally of then-Prime Minister Khin Nyunt.

After Khin Nyunt’s arrest during a government power struggle in 2004, Swe was jailed for 14 years on charges for violating censorship regulations and his shares were transferred to Tin Tun Oo, according to reports in The Irrawaddy.

Thirteen journalists were in jail in Myanmar as of December 1, making it “one of the five worst jailers of journalists in the world”, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The Australian Embassy in Yangon has not responded to queries.

MOST VIEWED

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures

  • More than 10,000 workers suspended

    More than 10,000 workers at 18 factories in Svay Rieng province have been suspended because of Covid-19, said provincial deputy governor Ros Pharith. Home to 11 special economic zones, Pharith said Svay Rieng has not been spared as the pandemic takes a toll on the global economy. “There

  • Nod given for school exams

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport announced that State-run higher educational institutions can hold examinations to end the academic year, while private schools can organise grade 9 and grade 12 examinations at their premises for two days. However, private institutions have to take measures to prevent

  • Oz lauds Kingdom’s passage of money laundering laws

    In a press release published by the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh on Monday, the country applauded Cambodia’s stance on transnational crimes as well as its promulgation of an anti-money laundering law and a law on combating proliferation financing. The praise came after King

  • Lotus face masks designed to cover globe

    A French designer in Cambodia has produced ecological face masks from lotus fibre to supply local and international markets with an eye on preserving ancestral techniques and supporting Cambodian women in rural communities. During a trip to Asia, Awen Delaval, an eco-friendly fashion designer, was

  • Accused not treated equally, says CCHR

    The Cambodia Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) has urged the Court of Appeal to do more to ensure that an accused’s right to a fair trial is fully respected. In a bulletin released on Monday, the CCHR said it had monitored 273 cases at the

  • Fish, frogs to boost local food supply

    The government has disbursed more than $4.5 million to boost aquaculture production and domestic market supply amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon told The Post on Monday that in boosting agricultural production, the ministry has received financing from development partners

  • Planning ministry hands out cash to 420,000 poor families in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Planning has identified 20,000 more poor families in the country, bringing the total to over 580,000, while over 420,000 of them have received the government’s cash assistance. In the meantime, many social security cards from families not deemed to be poor have been revoked.

  • Nature in focus at inaugural film and photo festival

    The first Cambodian Wildlife Photo and Film Festival – an event celebrating the conservation of nature through the eyes of wildlife photographers, nature enthusiasts and conservation experts – is scheduled for July 18-26 at Fauna in Focus’ Nature Discovery Centre in Siem Reap. The festival will be