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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        22  June 2011

Myanmar media owner asks for acquittal

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An Australian newspaper boss on trial in Myanmar asked to be acquitted Tuesday in closing arguments of a case that some observers say highlights the risks of doing business in the military-dominated country.

Ross Dunkley, co-founder of the Myanmar Times, the country's only newspaper with foreign investment, is on trial in Yangon on charges including assaulting a 29-year-old woman and giving her illegal drugs, leading to injury.

If convicted on all counts he could face up to 14 years in prison.

A verdict will he handed down on June 30, the judge announced.

"I ask for an acquittal for these charges as he didn't commit any crime," said defence lawyer Aung Than Soe.

A public prosecutor, Mone Mone, asked the court to hand down "an appropriate punishment," without demanding any specific sentence.

Dunkley was arrested in February and held in Yangon's notorious Insein prison until his release on bail in late March.

The woman he is accused of assaulting has previously asked for her complaint to be withdrawn, saying she was pregnant and unable to travel to court, but her request was rejected.

His business partner in Cambodia, David Armstrong, has suggested the newspaper editor was the victim of a dispute at his Myanmar company.

Dunkley co-founded the Myanmar Times in 2000 with local partner Sonny Swe, the son of an influential member of the junta's military intelligence service.

But Sonny Swe was jailed in 2005 and his 51 percent stake in the paper's publisher Myanmar Consolidated Media (MCM) handed to Tin Tun Oo, who is thought to be close to the regime's information minister.

Some observers believe that outspoken Dunkley -- who as a foreigner blazed a trail in Myanmar's tightly controlled media industry -- fell out of favour with the ruling elite in the authoritarian country.

The trial is ongoing.


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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