NLD Official Bans Myanmar Private Media From State Minister's Public Meeting in Bago; Journalists File Complaint

By Kaung Myat Min 29 November 2019

PYAY, Bago Region—Journalists say they will file a complaint with the National League for Democracy (NLD) Headquarters and the Myanmar Press Council after they were barred from attending a meeting between the Bago regional chief minister and local residents.

Bago Region Chief Minister U Win Thein met local residents at a monastery in Zigon Township in western Bago on Nov. 22. Journalists from private media were barred from the meeting and only staff from state-owned media were allowed to cover the event.

Reporter Ma Wai Zin Kyi of Mandalay-based VOM News Agency, reporter Ko Thet Khaing of the Bago Weekly News Journal and freelance reporter Ko Hmone Taing of Bago Post said they were prevented from attending by an official from the Bago NLD chapter.

Ma Wai Zin Kyi said they would file complaints with the Myanmar Press Council and the central offices of the NLD.

“We complained to Bago Region NLD chairman U Thein Dan by phone. He said he can’t take action if we file a complaint over the phone and asked me to file the complaint by letter. So, we will file a complaint by letter about discrimination between state-owned media and private media,” she told The Irrawaddy.

According to reporter Ko Thet Khaing of the Bago Weekly News Journal, NLD spokesperson Dr. Myo Nyunt said that the Bago Region chief minister did not give the order to ban the reporters and that the official barred the reporters of his own volition.

“The regional disciplinary committee has to take action if it is found that the party information officer violated party rules and regulations,” Dr. Myo Nyunt told The Irrawaddy.

According to U Thein Dan, party information officers at regional and state levels are assigned to cover public meetings of regional government ministers and lawmakers to ensure the public has access to accurate information. He added that the party has imposed regulations for party information officers to follow at such events.

“In case of a complaint, the regional disciplinary committee has to conduct an investigation and report the findings to us. We can issue warnings to violators [of party rules and regulations] and the central level [NLD] handles suspension and dismissal [for serious violations],” U Thein Dan told The Irrawaddy.

“We want the people to know more about the actions of our party, transparently, because people are the most fundamental part of the country. So, we always urge [party members] to make their actions as transparent as possible,” said Dr. Myo Nyunt.

In October, U Win Thein formally apologized to the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation for making remarks that were seen as encouraging sexual harassment of female teachers in villages.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko