Factory accused of using journalists to polish image

A CEMENT factory in Mon State is alleged to have used images of journalists who visited its company premises recently in its promotional billboard, apparently to boost its image amid protests from nearby residents over alleged pollution from the facility.

The Mawlamyine Cement Limited (MCL), a joint venture between SGC and Pacific Link Cement Industries, mounted a huge billboard in front of their factory on November 15, with the images of visiting journalists, with a caption: ‘The local reporters are visiting our company as observers’.

Since it began operation in 2016, over 2,000 residents in Kyaikmayaw and Moulmein townships have held three protests against the pollution caused by the cement plant’s coal-fired power plant.

The Union Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation is monitoring closely the facility and it has instructed the Mon State government to submit monthly environmental impact assessment reports on the factory.

The group of journalists shown on the company’s billboard are from the Southern Myanmar Journalist Network (SMJN). They visited the MCL factory on November 8 at the invitation and expense of the company.

The company offered the local reporters the chance to visit their working area not only to observe but also to cover the news, according to KoZaw Lwin Htut, spokesman of the SMJN.

‘’They didn’t get permission from the reporters to include their images on the billboard,” he said. “I thought they were there just to report.” Other reporters commented that the local reporters were used for the promotion of the company, and they urged them to take action.

Ko Zaw Lwin Htut said the SNJN reporters were already discussing the case but have yet to decide whether to issue a statement or to file a formal complaint to the company.

‘’If they won’t complain about this issue, other people would think that the local reporters support this company,’’ said Ko Myo Aung, a reporter from the community-based Unity Journal. The images of reporters should not be used to promote businesses, he added.

MCL began operations in March 2016. The 12.40 billion baht (K517.27 billion) project produces about 5000 tonnes of cement per day.

The factory will operate for over 50 years under the agreement with the Myanmar Investment Commission and the Mon State Government. When contacted by The Myanmar Times, an official declined to comment on the issue.

Source: Myanmar Times

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