Myanmar Now: Telenor’s irresponsible Myanmar sale puts us all at risk

King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway visit Telenor’s headquarters in Yangon during a state visit in 2014. Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

The Myanmar news agency, Myanmar Now writes in a recently published article that Telenor’s “irresponsible” sale of its Myanmar business “puts us all at risk” and that the Norwegian government has a responsibility to stop the dangerous sale of Telenor’s Myanmar operations to the notorious M1 Group. 

The news agency states, “For independent media outlets like Myanmar Now—forced to operate in secrecy following the military’s sustained attack on journalism—mobile operators that collude with the junta can lead to prison sentences or worse for our reporters and others. Our fear is not only of the military’s abilities to intercept calls and access metadata but also to track users’ locations through their phones, putting them at risk of becoming physical targets of the junta’s unrelenting terror.”

According to the news agency, Lebanon’s M1 Group is a company owned by billionaires with a history of doing business with dictatorships, including Bashar Al-Assad’s brutal regime in Syria.

Myanmar Now writes that Telenor has not been transparent with its deal with M1 and writes that the “company’s hurried and shadowy exit contrasts with the wide consultations Telenor publicized at the time of its market entry in 2014 under ex-general President Thein Sein’s government.” 

According to Myanmar Now, “It is in times of crisis that a company and a country’s commitment to human rights is tested. Barring a shift from this current trajectory, this is a test that Telenor—and Norway—will fail. As it is majority-owned by the Norwegian state, Telenor is no ordinary private business. Telenor’s actions in Myanmar directly reflect on the government of Norway. The Norwegian government is ultimately responsible for the harm Telenor is doing.”

Ending the article, Myanmar Now concludes that “Telenor’s withdrawal is an abandonment of the Myanmar people, and suggests that the company is putting commercial calculations ahead of its ethical obligations. If the protection of our human rights is a priority for Norway, its government must immediately halt this dangerous sale, before it is too late.”

Read the full article by Myanmar Now here

About Mette Larsen

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Thailand

View all posts by Mette Larsen

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