Dispute Erupts at Dunkley’s Myanmar Times

Ross Dunkley, the managing director of the Myanmar Times, addresses a business dispute at the newspaper in Rangoon on Tuesday. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

Ross Dunkley, the managing director of the Myanmar Times, addresses a business dispute at the newspaper in Rangoon on Tuesday. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON—An internal dispute has erupted at English-language newspaper The Myanmar Times, as the Burmese wife of the company’s majority shareholder has filed a lawsuit against Australian managing director Ross Dunkley for allegedly hitting her son-in-law during an argument.

She also accused Dunkley of trying to turn the paper into a daily publication without her permission, adding that she would block the plan. Dunkley said he would press ahead with the move regardless.

Khin Moe Moe, the wife of Dr. Tin Tun Oo, held a press conference on Tuesday during which she alleged that Dunkley had acted aggressively in an argument at the Times’ office on Monday.

“He punched my son-in-law in the face when we visited the office… He was even aggressive towards me, shouting at me in front of the staff,” Khin Moe Moe said.

She said the supposed incident was recorded on video and would be used in a lawsuit against Dunkley, which was filed at Rangoon’s Kyauktada Township police office on Tuesday. Her son-in-law was present at the conference but showed no signs of injury to his face.

Khin Moe Moe said the argument was caused by was Dunkley’s decision to turn The Myanmar Times into a daily without seeking the consent of her husband Tin Tun Oo, who owns 51 percent of the company.

“Now we block the application for publishing a daily newspaper, as there is no agreement from the director from the company [Tin Tun Oo]. After we reached compromise through negotiations, we will allow the application for a daily newspaper,” said Khin Moe Moe, who is also on the newspaper’s board of directors.

Currently, the newspaper appears only weekly, but from April the government will allow the publication of dailies.

Khin Moe Moe did not mention whether she would seek to resolve the business dispute through the court, but added that Dunkley “violated our [shareholder’s] rights. I will write letter to shareholders from the company and we should dismiss him.”

Tin Tun Oo is on a trip abroad and was not available for comment.

An hour earlier, Dunkley held his own press conference at the Times’ office to address the unfolding row.

He maintained a dispute had occurred after Khin Moe Moe tried to block the launch of a daily newspaper and had interfered in the news operations at the paper, adding that she had no authority to do so.

Dunkley said that ever since Tin Tun Oo took majority shares in the paper in 2005, he and his wife “have sometimes attempted to disrupt the activities of the newspaper.”“But their actions will not stop the daily newspaper… launch on April 1,” he said. “We have a legal dispute here, and they have acted illegally, extra-legally.”

Dunkley said it was “astounding” that Khin Moe Moe filed a lawsuit against him, adding that she had been at fault in the first place by entering into the Times’ office without authorization to “abuse our staff and defame me.”

“As a managing director I run the day-to-day operations at the company, until that situation changes I will continue to run the affairs,” he said. “As a non-executive director and shareholders she has many rights. However, she should address those concerns… at the board of directors meeting.”

Dunkley did not address the allegation that he had hit someone.

The Myanmar Times was founded in 2000 when Dunkley entered isolated, military-run Burma to set up an English-language newspaper.

He cut a deal with Burma’s hated Military Intelligence (MI) that allowed the paper to appear without passing through the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, Burma’s censorship board. However, the paper’s content was screened by the MI. Sonny Swe, a son of senior MI officer Brig-Gen Thein Swe, held majority shares in the enterprise.

Sonny Swe was arrested during a purge of the MI by junta leader Than Shwe in 2004. Tin Tun Oo, a media person with close connection to the junta, took over his shares in the Times.

After 2005, the Times also went through Burma’s censorship board. Other local publications remained subject to government censorship until early last year.

The Times employs about 300 staff, most of who are Burmese, and is 49-percent owned by an Australian company affiliated with Dunkley, who also publishes Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Post.

Tuesday’s public row is not the first time that the Australian businessman has run into trouble in Burma. In June 2011, he spent 44 days in Insein Prison and he was sentenced for physically assaulting a woman and for drug-related charges. Tin Tun Oo took over as editor-in-chief of Burmese-language news at the paper after the arrest of Dunkley, who remains in charge of English-language news.

This story was updated on Jan. 30, 2012.


23 Responses to Dispute Erupts at Dunkley’s Myanmar Times

  1. For money, greedy people fight. For power, crazy people kill each other. Without Myanmar Time, we will still be the same.

  2. As a regular reader of Myanmar Times, I would suggest, both party should settle this internal dispute outside court. If any party has used force should apologize. These kind of disagreements does happen but civilized people should think twice before raising hands.
    Hope all goes well for both parties.

  3. What is this man still doing in Myanmar?

    He is a convicted criminal who should have been deported. Who issued him a visa?

    Surely Myanmar can attract better.

    • Man! You can be put on trial anytime by the dictators and throw you in jail. It does not mean you are a bad man. The ones who throw you in jail are the criminals. You Myanmarese are the real problem-makers.

      • Come on mate! Do you want to say beaten woman is hero and overstaying visa is law abiding alien?
        Until now Burma has many corrupted maggots in Law enforcement. So he was escaped from prosecuting but he must behave from now on. Money can’t be buying everything in future.
        Burma will change within 5 years. You all must understand Burmese culture is very different from Cambodia and Thailand. You didn’t see true Burmese yet.
        You have to wait and see how we Burmese clean up corrupted maggots from our society in within 5 years.

      • You are clearly not aware of this man’s history. I’m sure if this had of happened in your country you would feel the same.

    • Rubbish. Myanmar is lucky to have Ross Dunkley. He’s helped a lot of people.

      • So you claim, others would argue that the only person he has helped is himself.

        He chose to jump into bed with SLORC, no one forced him into that position.

        I’ll wager that Tay Za and all the other cronies use the same excuse… “I’ve helped a lot of people….”. The Myanmar people are not that stupid.

        Sai Lin Kan is right, he took advantage of the corrupt legal system, his departure would be of no great loss to the Country.

        • You’re just wrong. His company has helped a lot of Myanmar people develop themselves, and move on to bigger and better things. If you’re relying on The Irrawaddy for information about the Myanmar Times, you’re not getting the full picture. There are plenty of former Irrawaddy staff that would tell you that. Ross Dunkley isn’t perfect, but he’s a real guy and what he does generally has a positive impact on those around him. As for the situation now, just look at where TTO is coming from. He was never wanted at The Myanmar Times.

  4. There is an egregious error in the report ‘Dispute erupts at Dunkley’s Myanmar Times’. From its launch in 2000 until September 2004, Myanmar Times was subject to rigorous censorship by Military Intelligence. For example, after Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in May 2002, the 22-paragraph story we wrote about her subsequent news conference at NLD headquarters was cut by the MI censors to five paragraphs. At the time I was editor of the English edition of the Myanmar Times.

  5. I am also disturbed with this unforeseen clashes between the partners, I am so fond of your journal and its attract locally and internationally, so pls solve this matter amicably. thanks to all.

  6. George Than Setkyar Heine

    Dunkley’s INITIAL MISTAKE in this SAGA was GETTING MIXED UP with the LOT in Burma I say.
    And secondly HE SHOULD TAKE LESSONS in ANGER MANAGEMENT in Australial in case he wants to continue his business in Burma as well.
    Of course even CIVILIZED PEOPLE would RUN WILD in BURMA given the circumstances in respect to PEOPLE and ENVIRONMENT – out of control, corrupt and gun wielding until today.
    As an alien Dunkley should be MORE ALERT, PASSIVE and TOLERANT aware of the fact he is DEALING with MISFITS, UNEDUCATED, ILLITERATE and MISGUIDED LOT like Khin Moe Moe and her ilk in the business and Burma of course.
    They DON’T KNOW WHO,WHERE and WHAT THEY ARE DOING as well in the first place if Dunkley fails to note yet.
    By the way what was her son in law doing in Dunkley’s office in the first place as well?
    Dunkley would be making his MOTHER OF MISTAKES if he thinks the LAW would DO ITS JOB in Burma as well I say.
    Burma is a JUNGLE until today and only the LAW of the JUNGLE REIGNS in BURMA idiot!

  7. Ross ‘Slugger’ Dunkley gets violent again!

  8. He is after all a businessman. But from the day one he launch the paper, he always have weekly-heated arguments with the generals (MI) about the censors of the articles though he end up gave in as he had no choices. Since beginning, MI’s staff and their followers tried to control the operational parts many times and the people who Ross’s hired were cornered and sacked. To get rid of Ross and took over the whole paper was the ultimate aims since beginning.
    General Aung San articles and ASSK’s articles were rejected many times as well as his own column under even stricter MI censorship yet Sonny Swe paid the price of jail for Junta’s fight.
    Bottom line is he did fight for press freedom with dictators internally.

  9. He is after all a businessman. But from the day one he launch the paper, he always have heated argument with the generals (MI) about the censors of the articles though he end up gave in as he had no choices. Since beginning, MI’s staff and their followers tried to control the operational parts many times and the people who Ross’s hired were cornered and sacked. To get rid of Ross and took over the whole paper was the ultimate aims since beginning.
    General Aung San articles and ASSK’s articles were rejected many times as well as his own column under even stricter MI censorship yet Sonny Swe paid the price of jail for Junta’s fight.
    Bottom line is he did fight for press freedom with dictators internally.

  10. Fighting between ex-General’s Crony and morally/ethically corrupted bogan Opportunist for bone, who care!
    I don’t give a damn about them.

  11. Tin Tun Oo (and his wife!) have no business being at the newspaper. They forced themselves on The Myanmar Times against the wishes of those who started and built the paper. I think it is disgraceful that she considers herself entitled to any opinion on how it’s run. Go Ross!

  12. Tin Tun Oo is the one of the oldest Cronies serving the interest of Junta and being rejected by people at the election (as a Kyant Phoot ) eventhough he desperately seeking to serve the Junta.
    He and his family deserve a lot of punching and spitting from Bursemese citizens.
    Whatever happening to him and his family is punishment from God.

  13. Dunkerly and his wife are detestable carpet baggers here to stick their snouts in the trough instead of doing anything to benefit Burma or the Burmese people. Too many of this type of trash coming to Burma as ‘business men’ and ‘English teachers’!

  14. Min Yan Naing (a) Norman Lin

    Tin Tun Oo’s wife would be the relatives of one of the former military officials. She should be jailed for blocking the most useful newspaper of Myanmar. She has no knowledge or experience about journalism. They should not be share holder of Myanmar Times since 2005. She is only a stupid bitch. Even though I live in foreign country, most Burmese people and the foreigners use to read only Myanmar Times which is written by good English. We are proud of our Myanmar Newspaper “The Myanmar Times”. Journalist Dunkley is useful for Myanmar. Please take my advice.
    Yan Naing.
    (Australia).

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