Source: Mizzima News
Two journalists from Modern Journal were granted bail on 6 March following the first hearing of a libel lawsuit in connection with damaged roads and Bridges in the thabeikkyin township. SEAPA Associate Partner Mizzima News filed the following report on 7 March 2012:
Gov’t construction engineer sues Modern Journal
Modern Journal’s managing editor and one reporter were granted bail on Tuesday in the first hearing of a libel lawsuit filed by a government construction engineer, according to their attorney.
Wai Hlyan and reporter Thet Su Aung were granted bail in a suit filed by Nwe Nwe Yi, a construction engineer in Thabeikkyin Township, Mandalay Region, said lawyer Myint Thwin. The Thabeikkyin Township court set the next hearing for March 23.
The engineer, who works under the Construction Ministry, filed the libel suit against the journal after it published a news article about damaged roads and bridges in Thabeikkyin Township. The article also said the engineer told the Su Htoo Pan Company to collect toll fees.
Kyaw Yin Myint, an official with the Modern Journal, said drivers told the reporter that roads and bridges in Thabeikkyin Township were in bad condition, leading to some vehicle accidents, and the toll fee was high.
In early January, a senior official from the Construction Ministry summoned journal officials and the reporter and complained that the article was not accurate, Kyaw Yin Myint told Mizzima.
Kyaw Yin Myint said, “The senior official, a retired lieutenant colonel, seemed angry, and he said that he would file a lawsuit against us. I think they sued us so that we wouldn’t write about bad roads and bridges again.”
Kyaw Yin Myint said the media have a role to play in public affairs now that the newly elected government has expanded some press freedoms, and he said the media can exercise a constructive role in society.
Talking about media laws, Kyaw Yin Myint said that if news reports are not accurate and damage people or businesses, then the media can be sued. But to protect journalists, he said there must be clear laws that guarantee the media’s right to accurately and fairly report the news, and the courts need to rule on the laws fairly and without bias.
Burma Media Association Secretary Zin Lin said the news journals in Burma are waiting for the government to enact a new press law that will offer the media more freedom and protection from frivolous libel suits.
“If journalists are sued frequently [without good cause], they may be reluctant to cover the news,” Zin Lin told Mizzima. He said articles like the one in Modern Journal are not personal attacks and such articles can be helpful.
The Modern Journal is also represented by Kyaw San and Naing Naing Tun. Thabeikkyin Township is 100 miles from Mandalay.
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