Vietnamese journalist’s press card revoked for slandering the defense forces on Facebook

By Toan Dao   June 20, 2016 | 09:04 am PT
Vietnamese journalist’s press card revoked for slandering the defense forces on Facebook
The Ministry of Information and Communications has decided to revoke a press card it has granted a local journalist, accusing him of "seriously damaging the reputation" of the defense forces.

In a statement on its website, the ministry said journalist Mai Phan Loi from the Ho Chi Minh City Law Newspaper has "seriously damaged the reputation" of the Vietnam People’s Army, "hurt the feelings" of families and colleagues of the military personnel who have perished on duty and "damaged the reputation of other journalists."

The Ministry hasn't provided any further details.

On June 18, Mai Phan Loi posted a poll on the Young Journalist Forum Facebook page, where he is an admin, asking its 12,000 members about the reasons behind the missing of the CASA 212-40 sea patrol aircraft. The poll sparked heavy criticism on social media and several newspapers for using the inappropriate words to describe the event. 

The plane of the Vietnam Coast Guard with nine military personnel on board went missing on June 16 in the Gulf of Tonkin while searching for the Su-30MK2 that went down on June 14.

In the Facebook poll, Loi listed a number of reasons that might cause the loss of the CASA 212-40 sea patrol aircraft, including "not excluding the possibility of being shot at" and "the aircraft has low quality due to corruption in the defense forces, which always has 'secret' stamps."

However, he was publicly criticized by some journalists and several of the army's generals as "unethical" and "cold" for using the word "ripped to pieces" to describe the state of the aircraft

He took down the poll and apologized to the group's members yesterday.  

The Ho Chi Minh City Law Newspaper has also suspended Loi for further investigation, according to a report on state-run Petrotimes on Monday. Loi is deputy managing editor and Hanoi Bureau chief of the newspaper.

Loi was one of six civil society representatives to meet Obama last month as he is also the director of MEC (Center for Media in Educating Community), a non-profit media organization which has received financial support from and partnered with various donors, including the UK Embassy in Hanoi, the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam and the World Bank, according to its website. 

He has been the central figure of a number of social media controversies in the last few years. In 2013, he faced public criticism for his comment on the same Forum that he did not support the Youth Union to award a singer for her charity work due to her single-mom status.

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