BURMESE FIRM FILES SUIT SEEKING DEFAMATION DAMAGES


2001-11-25
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 - A state-owned Burmese trading company has sued a Singapore-based firm for allegedly disseminating false information that has discouraged would-be investors, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Monday. U Kyaw Myint, managing director of the state-owned Myanmar Foodstuff Enterprise (MFE), charges in his lawsuit that Daw Win Win Nu, managing director of Yaung Chi Oo Co. (YCO) Ltd., has made damaging allegations about it to the international media, Win Win Nu told RFA's Burmese service. U Kyaw Myint declined RFA�s request for an interview. According to court papers filed in Rangoon and seen here, MFE seeks $60 million in compensatory damages from YCO for allegedly spreading false information about it. International media cited in the lawsuit include the BBC, The Far Eastern Economic Review, and CNBC. Win Win Nu, who lives in Singapore, said she planned to defy a court summons issued to her through the Burmese Embassy in Singapore to appear before a judge in Rangoon on Nov. 29. "I'm not attending the court in Rangoon for this case because there's no rule of law there.... My experience with Burma's courts suggests I would not have an equal chance even if I went to Burma," she said. In 1993, her Singapore-based trading company entered into a joint venture with MFE, under the name Myanmar Yaung Chi Oo Co. Ltd. That joint venture in turn ran the Mandalay Beer Factory. When the Mandalay Beer Factory became profitable, however, Win Win Nu has claimed that the junta sent in troops and nationalized the firm without compensating her. Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council has denied the allegation, but Win Win Nu has taken her case to the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands. Speaking to the Thai newspaper The Nation last January, Win Win Nu estimated her initial investment in the brewery at $6.3 million. In November 1998, she said, scores of armed soldiers were sent to her home and machine guns positioned all around the compound. Soon afterwards her local bank accounts were closed. After an 18-month court fight, Win Win Nu was forced to liquidate her share in the company. Radio Free Asia (RFA) is a private, nonprofit corporation broadcasting news and information to listeners in those Asian countries where full, accurate, and timely news reports are unavailable. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA aims to deliver such news reports - along with opinions and commentaries - and to provide a forum for a variety of voices and opinions. RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan, and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest journalistic standards and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.

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