SkyNet Clarifies Broadcast on Suspension of Article 59(f)

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 9 February 2016

RANGOON — Local broadcaster SkyNet has moved to clarify a news piece that aired on Sunday which many viewers interpreted as expressing support for the suspension of a constitutional clause which effectively bars Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency.

The same broadcast, run by both SkyNet and Myanmar National Television, aired the opinions of three ethnic leaders on whether Article 59(f) of Burma’s 2008 Constitution should be suspended to allow Suu Kyi to assume the country’s highest office.

An onscreen caption at one point read “positive results could come out of negotiations for the suspension of the constitutional Article 59(f).”

The program caused a minor storm online, with many Burmese social media users apparently interpreting the content as implying that the military was supportive of the much-rumored plan.

Ye Min Oo, senior general manager of SkyNet’s central news bureau, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the broadcast was opinion-based and had been misunderstood by many viewers.

“We just reported the three ethnic leader’s opinions. They said the result may be positive, we didn’t report that it will be positive. People have misunderstood the report,” Ye Min Oo said.

Article 59(f) of the military-drafted charter disqualifies anyone with a foreign spouse or children from becoming president, effectively barring Suu Kyi because her two children are British nationals, as was her late husband.

Since December, debate has surfaced over whether the clause could be suspended, paving the way for Suu Kyi to assume the country’s highest office. However, it remains uncertain whether the country’s powerful military would support such a plan which some lawmakers have described as possibly unconstitutional.

On Monday, Union Parliament Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than announced that nominations for the presidency would begin on March 17, more than four months since the National League for Democracy (NLD) claimed a hefty majority in last year’s election.