The Ministry of Information and Communications has decided to revoke a press card it has granted a local journalist, accusing him of “seriously damage 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 damage 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 “damage the prestige of other journalists”.
The Ministry doesn’t provide further details.
On June 18, Mai Phan Loi posted a poll on the Facebook page “Young Journalist Forum”, where he is admin, asking its 12,000 members about the reasons for the missing of CASA 212-40 sea patrol aircraft. The poll sparked heavy criticism on social media and several newspapers for using 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 exclude the reason of being shot at” and “the aircraft is 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 for using a word to describe the state of the aircraft for which they considered “unethical” and “cold”.
He took down the poll and apologized the 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 the deputy managing editor and Hanoi Bureau chief of the newspaper.
Loi was one of six people represented the civil society 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 various donors, including the UK embassy and the World Bank, according to its website.
The website of MEC is inaccessible yesterday.
He has been the central of some 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.