Zaykabar files defamation charge against politician over land dispute

By Noe Noe Aung and Win Ko Ko Latt
Volume 32, No. 637
July 30 - August 05, 2012

U Nay Myo Wai (right) of the Peace and Diversity Party on a tractor in Shwenanthar village, Mingalardon township, in early May.
Pic: Ko Taik

CONSTRUCTION firm Zaykabar last week filed defamation charges against a politician assisting farmers embroiled in a land ownership dispute with the company in Yangon’s Mingalardon township.

“I applied directly to a court of law to charge U Nay Myo Wai of the Peace and Diversity Party in the third week of July because some of his words have hurt our company’s reputation,” Zaykabar manager U Myint Zaw told The Myanmar Times on July 23.

“Mingalardon court has transferred this case to the township police. The police are examining it and my witnesses and I were interviewed recently,” he said.

The case, which has been widely covered in local and international media, relates to a dispute over almost 1000 acres of land in Shwenanthar village that the company allegedly acquired with the assistance of local officials, who told the farmers the land was to be acquired for a government project.

Zaykabar says it always planned to use the land for an industrial zone – Yangon Industrial Zone 4 – and the project had been approved by the Yangon Region government and Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development.

The dispute has been a public relations disaster for the company, which in May defied an order from local officials not to destroy embankments on the contested land. To establish its ownership rights, the company was then forced to apply for permission to farm the land, despite originally stating that it would be used for an industrial zone.

The company’s decision to file defamation charges is only likely to increase scrutiny on its activities in Mingalardon.

Zaykabar chairman U Khin Shwe, who is also an Amyotha Hluttaw representative, confirmed the charge on July 24.

“Of course, we charged him at the Mingalardon court a week ago. The court will name a section or an act for him after they examine [the case],” U Khin Shwe said.

He said that the company only wanted to have U Nay Myo Wai charged and the case was not related to the Peace and Diversity Party.

“We charged him because his words are insulting to the company and also to me. And his words can ruin our reputation,” said U Khin Shwe.

Peace and Diversity Party member U Aung Myo Oo said Mingalardon township police had informed U Nay Myo Wai of the complaint and its plan to investigate the allegations. U Nay Myo Wai was interviewed by police at 10am on July 23.

“I believe that the court will decide correctly. There is no problem, I think,” U Nay Myo Wai told The Myanmar Times as he returned from the township police station last week.

“All I did was help the farmers. I didn’t aim to insult anybody with my personal feelings,” he added.

When The Myanmar Times contacted Mingaladon police station, an official said he had been instructed by “the higher level” not to comment on the case.