S'pore journalist probed over drone incident in Myanmar

Two journalists, one from Singapore and the other from Malaysia, have been detained and are being investigated for breaking import and export laws after they tried to use a drone to take pictures in Naypyitaw.

Singapore journalist Lau Hon Meng, 43, and Malaysian journalist Mok Choy Lin, 47, were detained on Friday morning while on assignment for Turkey's state broadcaster, Turkish Radio and Television Corporation.

The Ministry of Information in Myanmar announced their detention on its Facebook page on Friday night, publishing pictures of their drone and their journalist visas.

The duo's driver Hla Tin and local interpreter, journalist Aung Naing Soe, were also detained.

"The foreigners are now still at the Myoma police station and the locals are sent to Pyinmana prison. The case has been opened with Section 8 of export import law," Mr Tun Tun Win, a police officer at Myoma police station in Naypyitaw, told The Sunday Times yesterday.

Under this law, anyone who exports or imports restricted, prohibited or banned goods can be jailed for up to three years and fined.

Myanmar has no specific law on drones, though travellers have reported facing problems trying to bring them into the country.

According to a report by Frontier Myanmar last year, drones have been used in Myanmar for gathering meteorological data, structural checks and traffic control.

Mr Lau and Ms Mok were planning to take pictures of Parliament buildings and pagodas in Naypyitaw when they were spotted by security guards, according to a report in the Global New Light of Myanmar, a government mouthpiece.

Myanmar's Foreign Affairs Ministry has informed the Singapore and Malaysian embassies in Yangon about this case.

More than 20 police officers raided Aung Naing Soe's house in Yangon on Friday evening.

The search lasted two hours and involved immigration as well as special branch police. They seized some memory sticks, Reuters news agency said yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 29, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore journalist probed over drone incident in Myanmar'. Print Edition | Subscribe