They are wrong (1)

Writer: 
Dr Thein Myint

The election situation of Interim Myanmar Press Council was carried by The Standard Time daily issued on September 9 and concerned persons in MPC are going wrong as to this matter.

 I am familiar with much of these matters as I am working as part of the council. I would like to voice missteps of each concerned person candidly. Now is the crucial time for changes in the country. It is also time to make the underlying truths known to the public.

I don’t want to remain evasive over what I have known. I will say about the missteps of the concerned persons of the council straightforwardly.

(1)

To U Tint Swe

I have acquainted with you for more than one decade. One has known much about another.

U Tint Swe said in his interview with The Standard Time daily that the interim MPC was an independent organization and it was also freely drafting the media law since the start of the forming the council.

I have the right to say. U Tint Swe, you know the best about the script you wrote from start to end.

The formerly Myanmar Core Press Council was initially formed with 20 members on August 9 in 2012. But the announcement of the forming the council attracted much criticism from the literary arena. Most members are the ones who did not win the public trust in the previous military region and some of those violated ethics.

The duties granted to the council members were above the law. One of the reasons was that the Presidential Office formed the council with those who will support the government. But the council had to prepare to re-constitute as the public opposed it.

In this state, the Eleven Media Group pushed to draft the media law in order to rapidly remove the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Act. Other tasks did not attract us. It is natural that the government-appointed members cannot refuse to toe the line. We decided to work together with the council if it does not accept the assistance of the government.

As a result, U Aung Kyi, the former information minister, privately met with the responsible persons of the council and then re-formed the council with 28 members on September 17 in 2012. These plans were handled by either U Tin Swe or the ministry of information. Since the government formed the council with the members it liked, U Tin Swe’s saying in his interview that the council was independent was totally wrong.

I gave up for several times as the particular group influenced the voting at a time when important decisions were made at the meetings. Regarding drafting of the media law, the MPC wanted to mention that it was going independent and this point was also going wrong.

The drafting process of media law and by-laws took quite long as the ministry of information interfered in it for several times.

U Tint Swe said, “The choosing commission was formed to re-form the council in which the independent persons included. One of deputy directors-general from the ministry was chosen by the selection commission. We had nothing to demand as to the choosing process.”

Sub-paragraph (b) 4, paragraph 5 in chapter 3 of the media by-law stated that an officer not lower than the post of deputy director-general of the ministry must take part in drafting the law. It is apparent that it has no freedom since its initial stage.

The choosing commission has to discuss how to make selections. The commission has to submit negotiation situation to the information ministry. It can be said that the information ministry does not interfere in it.

This point is also going wrong. There must be 29 members, 14 of them are from media persons. Each person from four news media associations and two from the MPC will include in the council. Those six persons are nonpareils. This point is not mentioned in the media by-law. Regarding this act, the legal experts from the choosing commission held discussions and made objections. For that reason, the choosing commission had to submit an official letter to the information ministry to give a permission order.

The information ministry refused to accept it for the first time, but for the second time U Tint Swe signed the agreement and it was clear that the choosing committee could not handle the matters freely.

The persons of the interim press council always hurry to form the council and so they are put pressure on the information ministry. Some said the council would be formed of their own way if the by-law was passed. The information ministry seems to hesitate to add some points to the by-law.

Although it was not known why U Tin Swe signed, the MPC’s election would be held ahead of the general elections. It is obvious that the choosing commission can do nothing without having the interference of the information ministry. If these situations are reviewed, U Tint Swe and the readers can know actual truths.

The next person I would have to tell is Ko Zaw Thet Htwe after U Tint Swe. He is a colleague working together with me for some time. For me, I will tell about the true situations that all should know.

(2)

To Ko Zaw Thet Htwe

Ko Zaw Thet Htwe is a colleague working together with me for some time. I think Dr Than Htut Aung, CEO of the EMG worked together with him for longer than me. I am going to tell about the true situations as we are fully acquainted each other.

Ko Zaw Thet Htwe’s reply to the question raised by The Standard Time daily goes wrong.

Ko Zaw Thet Htwe said, “All media persons have been invited at a time when the media law and the by-law are being drafted. What things must be included? Who should be in the future press council? Advices were sought. The opposing associations did not discuss and gave no advices. Only when something is done, objections have to be found.”

 This point is going wrong. Really I sent e-mails to all members of press council objecting to it for two times. I made objections not less than two times at the meetings. Ko Zaw Thet Htwe did not know about that because he pretended it.

Ko Zaw Thet Htwe added, “I don’t think these objections can change the whole process.”

What do these words mean? Situations have developed a lot because of constant objections. The convenient press council members are offered partaking meals to introduce a system of collective responsibility. We fought against this system. Are you now trying to go back to this scheme?                             



Before they amended the entry requirements to the council, it was severely worse than it is now. Even though I objected countless times to the 35 years requirement but I did not succeed as I was the lone voice against the rule. Although after the press council election commission was formed, the age requirement was loosened after me and other members objected.

I think one should be able to recall the question posed by Zaw Thet Htwe to the general secretary Thida Tin at the press council election commission’s press conference.

“Since it is in November, will it clash with the elections?” was the questioned that was posed. It is an appropriate question if political interests were at heart. You already know the answer to the question whether the formation of the new press council should happen that close to the general elections.

Let us discuss this matter. We, as EMG, believed that the press council election should occur only after the elections and to that matter I let every member of the press council know personally or through email.

The reason is because I do not trust a press council that will be created through nepotism with a system of collective responsibility because it is so close to the critically important general election.

My colleagues and I believe that if such a council practicing nepotism with the distribution of power to only a handful of people came to be, it is possible that members of the press council can defame certain individuals and through underhanded means be able to abolish the elections.

What I am trying to say is that assassinations or assassination attempts happens, followed up by spreading of misinformation by propagandists and at that crucial time, some members of the press council conspire together and help propagate the rumors.

What if the election results were not fair? The newly formed press council can then be used as a tool to claim that the elections were actually fair because they will then already have the right to do so. We have to think of the worst possible situation.

That is why we keep on saying that the formation of the press council should not be rushed and only be done after the election.

I have more to say about the behavior of those propagandists spreading misinformation, including you and some press council members. It is regarding the attack and attempted assassination of EMG’s CEO, Dr Than Htut Aung.

We have a reason for always citing EMG’s case every time because it is far more practical to speak through a personal experience rather than of others.

(4)

I would like to accuse some of the press council members’ involvement in the character assassination attempts following the EMG’s CEO attack where he got through with his life intact. Every accused can come forward to claim their innocence. We have the evidence.

Truthfully speaking, if the things I am saying were wrong, I could get sued. As for us, we will be striving towards uncovering the perpetrators behind the attack on our CEO.

At this point, I would like to separate this into two parts. The first part is how some members of the press council and some media professionals spread made up stories. The other part is what the propagandists did.

The attack on CEO Dr Than Htut Aung occurred on July 14. The next morning, two of the assailants were arrested and up until this point, the police followed their normal procedures. On the 15th, it was reported that the minister of home affairs went to see the president.The news spread that the president’s office was interested in the case. In the 16th of September’s edition of 7 Day news journal, it quoted Zaw Htay, Director of the President Office, saying “Since some perpetrators have been caught, it will be done according to the law”.

On 15th, the actions of the police force slowed and at that time, misinformation regarding the attack surfaced with fake derogatory pictures. They pinned the origin of the attack on issues arising from KTV. These were spread by dictatorial propagandists on Facebook such as Myanmar Express and Opposite Eyes.

At the same time, it became known to us that some members of the press council and media professionals spread the news as according to those propagandists. They could have contacted and got information from related police station in regards of the case and only publishes information which was found to be reliable. So what we wondered was whether the propagandists received the information from press council members and media professionals or media propagandists ordered them instead.

We would like to know the involvement of the interim press council’s secretary Kyaw Min Swe with the Presidential office and from whom some of the members of the press council got that news, especially since the made up stories only came out after reports that the president office is interested in this case.

We know who said what in the meeting between Myo Myint Nyein from PEN Myanmar, NLD MP Phyo Min Thein, members of the interim press council Dr Phay Myint and Myint Kyaw. Dr Phay Myint should remember that he said to wait and observe Dr Than Htut Aung case because news are coming out.

Prior to that, PEN Myanmar released a statement regarding the case.

The reason why they believed made up defamatory stories as news is possibly because the source of the stories is someone they trusted. The one who give the information knows best whether he is from the interim press council or part of the government’s group.

This is only a rough description of what all of them said and did regarding CEO Dr Than Htut Aung’s case.

I will move on to the second part.



(5)

There are many things to talk about Ko Zaw Thet Htwe. (I will later write about personal cases.) As of now, I will talk about his participation in dictatorial propagandist mechanism even though he himself had been framed and imprisoned by them.

CEO was attacked on July 14. The false story of KTV issue quickly followed the incident. There were also attempts to discredit him using misinformation about log extraction. You are also involved in those attempts to discredit him.

The first one was KTV story. I was informed that Ngat Pyaw Kyaw, who is very close to you, called movie Director Mee Pywar on July 16 just a little more than one day after the attack on CEO.

Mee Pywar recounted what he said: “We are in a problem. My friends from Nay Pyi Taw called me and said that the two detainees had confessed. We went to a massage parlor together. You, me and Ko Than Htut Aung. The detainees confessed that the boyfriend of the girl that massaged Ko Than Htut Aung was disappointed and staged the attack.”

Mee Pywar told me that he replied he had no knowledge of the happenings and he was not involved.

Therefore, while me, Ko Mee Pywar, Ko Thein Than Oo from Mandalay and Dr. Than Htut Aung were having lunch together, Dr. Than called Ngat Pyaw Kyaw and asked him. He did not give any answer. Dr. Than said, “Don’t say nonsense. Who from Nay Pyi Taw told you that? Who is behind you?” Then, he only replied, “I can’t say who is the one from Nay Pyi Taw that informed me” before hanging up.

So, the police should also interrogate Ngat Pyaw Kyaw to uncover the case.

We are not accusing. We are talking the truth. It is not just you and Ngat Pyaw Kyaw behind spreading propagandas to discredit our Dr. Than. Mar J is also involved because in your publication, Tomorrow Journal, Mar J wrote articles painting the rumors as truth. His articles are proves.

Why are you, Ngat Pyaw Kywar, Ko Mar J and some of the Press Council members are writing and spreading the false stories instead of being sympathetic to the victim of the attack? If they have actual facts, the can write such stories under their real names. And Ko Mar J, if you want to write, you do not need to keep making suggestions or implications. Just write bluntly. If your writing contains any mistakes, you will be sued.

(6)

Another point is rumors about log extraction. (Among them who spread the rumor is Parliamentarian representing Gangaw Township U Hla Swe. A case was filed at the court against him for spreading false information and the court has accepted.) In this case, it seems there are suspicious coincidences about your actions at the time of the attack on our CEO.

The attack occurred on July 14. On the next day, the police’s investigation slowed down and rumors started to circulate. Behind the rumors, dictatorial propagandists, you, your close friend Ngat Pyaw Kyaw, Ko Mar J, some of the Press Council members and a few media workers are involved. People close to you vigorously launched investigations to find any prove to establish the rumors.

You called Ko Myint Zaw from Gangaw Township NLD office (now candidate for State Parliament representing Gangaw Township) on July 17. You asked him about illegal logging that ‘Bullet’ (PM Hla Swe’s nickname after he said ‘come when the golden hand is reached out. If not, bullets will be used in the stead’ to the ethnic groups.) has accused of. You asked if it is true.

Ko Myint Zaw replied there were no log extractions under the name Than Htut Aung and that he only bought logs from someone else for export. When he was replying, he put the phone on speaker. One of our editors Soe Htet Khaing was also there.

Soe Htet Khaing was Editor-in-Charge for Forever Sports Journal while you were chief editor. NLD Township Chairperson Daw Khin New Yee, party members U Myint Oo, U Khin Maung Myint, Ko Kyaw Kyaw Lwin, Ko Aung Thu Htun our Kalay reporter and Ko Thet Htein Win our Pakokku reporter heard what you told him. Your action made it clear that you are deeply involved in spreading propaganda to discredit Dr. Than Htut Aung.

Why should you ask if Dr. Than Htut Aung was involved in illegal logging only couple days after an attempt attack on his life? Before you, the police Special Branch and Military Security Affairs conducted investigations in Seikphyu, Pakokku, Gangaw and Monywa. In your Tomorrow Journal, Ko Mar J also wrote articles mentioning that Dr. Than Htut Aung had illegally extract logs while the KTV story is being spread.

Anyway, whoever spread the rumors as truth trying to distort the attack on EMG’s CEO Dr. Than Htut Aung. The police needs to investigate you. Even if not under this government, you should be interrogate under the next government because the sources of the rumors are also related to the attack.

They cannot just say they learn it through Facebook. Even if they got the information from Facebook, strong facts are needed before republishing it. Since you are also journalists, repeating the rumors without strong facts means that it is done intentionally.

In fact, Press Council members are supposed to be the most respectable through ethics, dignity and knowledge. Should people of that status speak irresponsibly? Why would they spread this kind of rumors irresponsibly?

Why did you try to find out about the illegal log extraction while dictatorial elements are trying to frame Dr. Than Htut Aung? You need to clarify it. You and our CEO had a very close relationship. I am not talking about personal matters, Ko Zaw Thet Htwe. If I talk about them, I have a lot.

What I want to say is you and some of the members of Interim Myanmar Press Council are dishonest. There are also elements of dictatorial propagandist mechanism in there. At this time, I cannot accept thrusting the authority in the grasp of a closed circle. I objected. Let the selection be free. If not, only your men and people close to you will regain the positions. If that is the case, no one will trust the Press Council.

I will continue writing about other members of the Interim Myanmar Press Council.