Myanmar media company Eleven Media Group apologized after a column suggested local politician, Phyo Min Thein, took a bribe. The author of the column and the paper’s chief editor have been in jail since Thein filed a defamation lawsuit.
The company’s Daily Eleven newspaper and its website’s November editorial claimed “an unnamed regional chief minister” took a watch worth $100,000 U.S. from a property developer in exchange for a construction contract, the Bangkok Post reported. Thein, the chief minister in Rangoon, denied that he had taken a bribe for a contract, drawing the conclusion he was the “unnamed” politician in question and telling the press his wife bought him a cheaper watch that Eleven mistook for a pricey gift.
The Nov. 6 editorial was written by Eleven Media Group’s CEO Than Htut Aung and was titled “A Year After the Nov. 8 Poll.” It discusses the U.S. presidential election, which it notes was held a year to the day after Myanmar’s election. It claimed that one “newly elected minister” had the $100,000 watch even though he only made $2,500 a month.
The local government that Thein represents in Rangoon sued both Aung and Eleven Media Group’s chief editor Wai Phyo. Both are currently in jail facing the defamation lawsuit, Burmese news site Irrawaddy reported.
In late December, Eleven Media Group apologized, writing in part “Some points mentioned in the editorial were wrong and groundless accusations” about the government and Thein. Further, Eleven Media Group’s Aung apologized for the article “written based on inaccurate and groundless information” and promised not to repeat the error,” according to the Bangkok Post.
According to Eleven Media Group’s website, the company was launched in 2000, and the Daily Eleven newspaper was launched in 2013.
iMediaEthics has written to Eleven Media Group for more information.