Censor Bans Reports of VP's Resignation

By The Irrawaddy 8 May 2012

Burma’s censorship board, the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD), has warned weekly news journals that they face disciplinary action if they publish reports of the recent resignation of Vice-president Tin Aung Myint Oo.

“We submitted a story [on Tin Aung Myint Oo’s resignation] to the PSRD over the weekend, but we were told that we couldn’t publish it,” said  Hline Thit Zin Wai, the editor of the Rangoon-based Venus News weekly.

Two editors from another journal, The Myanmar Post, said they were called in by the PSRD on Monday and made to sign a statement agreeing to follow the censorship board’s procedures after they ran a report that the vice-president had quit for health reasons.

“It’s not that we didn’t intend to get permission, but we didn’t have time because the story came in on Sunday and we had to go to print on Monday,” said Myanmar Post editor Khaing Lin Kyaw.

It has been widely reported outside of Burma that Tin Aung Myint Oo submitted a letter of resignation on May 3. The government has not publicly acknowledged these reports, but official sources told The Irrawaddy that they were accurate.

“Tin Aung Myint Oo has reportedly been diagnosed with throat cancer and is suffering from depression,” said a government source in Naypyidaw who confirmed that the vice-president has in fact resigned.

Concerning the ban on publishing news of Tin Aung Myint Oo’s health problems and resignation, Hline Thit Zin Wai said, “The journals report the illness because he is ill. Why should we be charged for that?

“This only raises more questions about the Minister of Information’s claims that there will be freedom of press.”

Meanwhile, residents of Mayangon Township in Rangoon, where Tin Aung Myint Oo lives, said that the area around his home has been under tight security since last week.

Tin Aung Myint Oo is considered to be one of the leading hardliners in Burma’s military-backed government. Like President Thein Sein, he was a leading member of the former junta who resigned from his military post to run for election in November 2010.

Related article: Is Burma’s Hardline VP Feeling the Heat?