The Myanmar Times took another step today in its ongoing journey to find itself when it published a letter to the editor that scathingly questions a recent editorial decision that was the latest reminder to readers of the paper’s shifting values.
(Read the full letter here.)
The author – an anonymous longtime subscriber living in Sanchaung – begins the letter by commending The Myanmar Times for two recent editorials, which “urge a balanced, research-based approach to reporting on the crisis which is clearly welcome and required.”
Because of its previous triumphs, the letter’s author was “aghast” at reading “Truth about Rakhine will prevail” by Daw Khin Thidar Aye, a Myanmar diplomat and a PhD candidate in international relations at the Australia National University’s Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. The Myanmar Times published her opinion piece on Friday and then deleted it hours later.
“The piece almost entirely comprises dangerous contentions which are not supported by a shred of evidence,” the letter’s author writes, before listing these contentions, including the claim that “international policy and investment are supporting the villains and fertilizing terrorist breeding grounds.”
The author writes that “Daw Khin Thidar Aye has produced the most egregious example of misinformation that I have read in an edited publication since the escalation of the Rakhine conflict on 25 August.”
Then comes the juiciest, most passive-aggressive part: “I would hope, though I do not expect, that The Myanmar Times’ editorial team will distance itself from this piece in Monday’s edition. Rather it seems likely that I will choose to cancel my subscription, active since May 2014. I will continue my subscription to the Global New Light of Myanmar. It at least makes no secret of the fact that it is a government mouthpiece.”
As reported by Frontier earlier this year, the current editor of The Myanmar Times, Kavi Chongkittavorn, was hired to raise the publication out of disrepute after its leadership was taken over by government loyalists last year. Perhaps the decision to delete Friday’s opinion piece and then publish this scathing letter today was an attempt to distance himself from Daw Khin Thidar Aye’s opinions.
Why, then, did The Myanmar Times publish “Truth about Rakhine will prevail” in the first place?
We posed this question to Chongkittavorn on Friday, but he has not responded.