DVB Multimedia Group

Eleven Media chiefs questioned over defamation allegations

Eleven Media Group CEO Than Htut Aung, pictured in handcuffs at Tamwe police station on 11 November 2016. (PHOTO: DVB)

Eleven Media Group (EMG) CEO Than Htut Aung and chief editor Wai Phyo have arrived at Tamwe township police station after being summoned for questioning over a defamation lawsuit filed against them by the Rangoon regional government.

An officer at Tamwe township police station confirmed to DVB that the pair had arrived at the station around 2:30pm on 11 November.

“The two are currently being questioned,” said the policeman.

The EMG CEO and chief editor are being sued by the Rangoon regional government over an article written last week by Than Htut Aung that was published in the Daily Eleven newspaper and the Eleven Media website which suggested that Rangoon Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein was gifted a US$100,000 wristwatch as a backhander by a property developer.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday in the former Burmese capital, Rangoon Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein said that the regional government is filing a lawsuit against EMG’s CEO Than Htut Aung and chief editor Wai Phyo under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Act for “online defamation”.

The motion comes after Eleven Media CEO Than Htut Aung wrote an editorial last week in which he lambasted the National League for Democracy-led government for its failings after a year in power, saying it had “failed to tackle corruption and crony capitalism.”

“The newly elected NLD officials’ rosy relations with the corrupt officials from the previous bureaucracy are grave concerns for the Myanmar people.

“In social media, stories have circulated about a newly elected minister, making just [US]$2,500 a month, being seen wearing a $100,000 Patek Philippe watch.

The editorial piece went to accuse an unnamed property developer who had recently been released from jail on drugs charges as the individual who had given the similarly unnamed minister this “gift”.

The realtor in question was widely believed to be Maung Weik, who held his own press conference on Wednesday when he categorically denied the accusations.