Burmese Tycoon Tay Za to Set Up Journalism Foundation

By May Sitt Paing 7 August 2014

RANGOON — Burmese tycoon Tay Za will donate US$1 million to help establish a journalism foundation in the county’s fledgling media market.

The US blacklisted businessman will use an initial amount of $1 million from his Asia Green Development Bank to set up the foundation.

“U Tay Za wants to help create genuine media and [to allow] young journalists to be able to work on a global scale, instead of being limited to Burma. Our assistance does not mean that the media would have an obligation to write only the good side of us. There are no strings attached,” Bo Than, who is part of the team helping to start the foundation, told The Irrawaddy.

The idea for the foundation was born out of a promise made by Tay Za to 14 journalists traveling with him to Putao, northern Kachin State, in February, Bo Than added.

Tay Za is listed by the United States as a specially designated national (SDN), preventing US companies from doing business with his sprawling Htoo Group of Companies conglomerate. One of Burma’s wealthiest businessmen, he has been accused of aiding—and being enriched by—the country’s former military regime.

Late last year, Tay Za announced he would sue the Sun Rays weekly journal for defamation, after the publication ran a front page story with his photo accompanied by the headline “Cronies should jump into the Andaman Sea.”

“It is good if they are [starting the foundation] with a good purpose. There is a lot to be done,” said Thiha Saw, a member of Burma’s interim Press Council. “I think it might be a little hard in practice. Who is going to teach? Who is going to attend the courses? It will be good if they teach journalism without bias.”

On Tuesday, Tay Za told the Union Daily newspaper that media outlets in Burma lacked impartiality and were not up to the standards of a genuinely democratic country. He said he planned to establish the foundation in order to help elevate industry standards.