Myanmar to release jailed Singaporean, Malaysian journalists

Singaporean cameraman Lau Hon Meng arriving at court in Naypyitaw yesterday. He and Malaysian reporter Mok Choy Lin, who were detained along with two others for filming with a drone in Myanmar, will be released today.
Singaporean cameraman Lau Hon Meng arriving at court in Naypyitaw yesterday. He and Malaysian reporter Mok Choy Lin, who were detained along with two others for filming with a drone in Myanmar, will be released today.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

A Singaporean and a Malaysian journalist who were jailed in Myanmar last month for filming with a drone will be released today after charges against them were withdrawn, their lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told The Straits Times.

The duo - cameraman Lau Hon Meng from Singapore and reporter Mok Choy Lin from Malaysia - were detained by police on Oct 27 near Myanmar's Parliament building in the capital Naypyitaw.

Local journalist Aung Naing Soe, who was interpreting for them, and their driver Hla Tin were also arrested.

All four were serving a two-month sentence under a colonial-era aircraft law, and faced further charges for importing the drone. The two foreign journalists were also facing charges for an immigration offence.

Speaking by phone yesterday, Mr Khin said all pending charges had been withdrawn. He added that when the four returned to prison from the courthouse yesterday, "there was more joyous news waiting for them, because the prison superintendent said he had instructions to release them" this morning.

"All four are very happy about this," Mr Khin said, adding that they were to have completed their sentences on Jan 9.

The two foreign journalists are expected to leave Myanmar this evening, he said.

A Myanmar police official told Reuters on Tuesday that the charges were being dropped because the four did not mean to endanger national security. Also, Myanmar wanted "to forward the relationship between countries", he added, referring to Singapore and Malaysia.

In a statement yesterday, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they respected the judicial process in Myanmar.

"We are glad that the Myanmar authorities have withdrawn the remaining charges and look forward to Mr Lau's return to Singapore so that he can be reunited with his family," said the ministry spokesman.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2017, with the headline 'Myanmar to release jailed Singaporean, Malaysian journalists'. Print Edition | Subscribe