Yangon Govt Sues Eleven Media for Offenses Against the State

By Moe Myint 10 October 2018

YANGON — Three journalists from Eleven Media Group were arrested on Wednesday after the Yangon Regional Government filed a lawsuit against them for committing an offense against the State for publishing “incorrect information” about the government.

Managing editors U Kyaw Zaw Lin, Nari Min and chief reporter U Phyo Wai Win were summoned to Tamwe Police Station for testimonials on Wednesday morning before being brought to the township court to be charged under Article 505 (b) of Myanmar’s Penal Code.

Following the hearing, they were sent to Insein Prison. If found guilty, they could receive sentences of up to two years in prison.

According to the court hearing on Wednesday, the Yangon government office director U Aung Kyaw Khaing filed the case against Eleven Media on Monday, complaining about an analysis in The Weekly Eleven published that day.

The story, written by U Phyo Wai Win under the pseudonym Phyo Wai, criticizes the Yangon government for wasting public money due to mismanagement, citing examples including a government loan without Parliament’s approval from two private banks to buy school buses and irregularities in the government’s Yangon Metropolitan Public Company, where more than 60,000 shares are under the regional planning and finance minister’s name.

The Yangon government owns 51 percent of shares in the company and the 64-billion-kyat (US$41.6 million) investment was approved by Parliament.

The company’s board of directors includes the Yangon government’s Electricity, Industry, Roads and Communications Minister Daw Nilar Kyaw, and Yangon’s Planning and Finance Minister U Myint Thaung.

Currently, the Yangon government is facing criticism for abusing its power to use public money without Parliament’s approval following the auditor general’s report on the regional government’s budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The Wednesday lawsuit between the Yangon government and Eleven Media is not the first.

In 2016, its CEO U Than Htut Aung and Editor-in-Chief U Wai Phyo were sued by Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein for accusing him of corruption. But later Eleven Media Group issued an official apology and a retraction of the editorial that led to the libel case.