Myanmar official sues newspaper for corruption claim

Yangon’s chief minister denies claim in article saying he accepted $100,000 watch from convicted drug lord as bribe

Myanmar official sues newspaper for corruption claim

World Bulletin / News Desk

A senior Myanmar government official is taking legal action against a local newspaper and its chief executive officer over an opinion piece accusing him of corruption.

Than Tun Aung, the CEO of Daily Eleven and Eleven Media Group, has been sued for writing, publishing and posting on the newspaper’s website and social platforms an article alleging that Yangon’s chief minister Phyo Min Thein accepted an expensive watch from a drug lord as a bribe, official media reported Thursday.

The state-run Global News Light of Myanmar said Phyo Min Thein has filed an online defamation case to police against the writer, Than Tun Aung, and Daily Eleven under the Telecommunications Law, which carries a jail sentence or a fine or both.

The opinion article accused the Yangon Region chief minister of “rosy relations with corrupt officials” and of wearing a $100,000 Patek Philippe brand watch that was described as a gift from a convicted drug lord.

The chief minister has insisted that the watch he wears is a more affordable Rolex bought by his wife as a present, and not a Patek Philippe as described in the article titled Myanmar, One Year after the Nov 8 Polls, said the report.

After the newspaper reportedly refused to answer his questions regarding the article, the official decided to sue the writer and his newspaper.

“The region cabinet prosecuted the Eleven CEO at Tamwe Police Station under section 66 (D) of the Telecommunications Law,” said the official media.

Section 66-D of the law states: “Whoever commits any of the following acts shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to a fine or to both: (D) Extorting, coercing, restraining wrongfully, defaming, disturbing, causing undue influence or threatening to any person by using any Telecommunications Network.”

The law repealed the Electronic Transactions Law -- one of several repressive laws enacted by a former junta to repress opposition figures and activists -- in 2013.

However, several people -- mostly social media users -- have been prosecuted and jailed under the 2013 law for online defamation during the previous administration as well as the current civilian government led by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.

A reporter at Democratic Voice of Burma also faced the same charge last month for reporting about a local administrative official in Bago region who locals accused of misusing government loans for farmers.

Last Mod: 10 Kasım 2016, 09:14
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