Myanmar detains two newsmen for defamation

YANGON • Police have detained two top officials of Myanmar's largest daily newspaper over a defamation case by a powerful politician.

Dr Than Htut Aung, the flamboyant chief executive of Eleven Media Group, and the paper's chief editor Wai Phyo were detained after Yangon's regional government sued them for defamation over allegations of corruption.

In a column published this week, Dr Than Htut Aung accused the government of Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi of failing to tackle the country's entrenched corruption and crony capitalism since winning elections last year.

The piece also referred to "social media stories" accusing a minister of wearing a US$100,000 (S$141,000) Patek Philippe watch allegedly given by a businessman who served jail time on drug charges and later won plum contracts. The minister and businessman were not named, but both called press conferences to deny the allegations.

Announcing his plan to sue for defamation under the country's broadly worded telecommunications law, Yangon Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein said the watch he wore was a more affordable Rolex and was a gift from his wife.

A member of the ruling National League for Democracy was charged under the same law in a separate case this month for criticising the army and commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2016, with the headline 'Myanmar detains two newsmen for defamation'. Print Edition | Subscribe