Did the chief minister get his fancy watch from a drug lord? Eleven Media CEO says yes.

Eleven Media Group and its CEO Dr Than Htut Aung are embroiled in another spat with the government after the Daily Eleven newspaper published a letter written by the CEO that accuses Yangon Region Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein and the NLD of having ‘rosy relations with corrupt officials’.

In an opinion piece titled ‘Myanmar, one year after the Nov 8 polls’, Dr Than Htut Aung writes:

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 $2,500 a month, being seen wearing a $100,000 Patek Philippe watch.

For many Myanmar people who make $2 a day, this is a source of great disbelief and resentment.

The individual who allegedly gave this ‘gift’ to the elected minister was recently released from jail after serving time for his involvement in a drugs case. After the NLD came into power, this individual’s project for building a new city, received approval.

Still, one year after the election, although the government has shown despicable behaviour, many of the Myanmar people are hopeful that change will come. And they are optimistic that the government will delegate responsibility and power.

The Yangon Region government responded with a letter addressed to the chief editor of the Daily Eleven titled ‘Regarding the Daily Eleven article on Nov 6’, which is signed by Moe Hein, director of the Chief Minister’s Office, on behalf of the chief minister.

The letter from the Chief Minister’s Office includes two questions about the Daily Eleven piece:

Who is the rich man who was in prison and won the tender for the new city project? Who is the rich man who always wears a Patek Philippe watch?

U Win Htein, a member of the NLD’s central executive committee, told BBC Burmese today that Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein will handle this issue, and the letter is just the first step.

“It is possible that the minister will sue them,” U Win Htein said.

He also said Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein wears a Rolex watch that is worth K3 million, which is ‘more affordable’ than a Patek Philippe.

Eleven Media released a statement today in response to the letter from the Chief Minister’s Office, saying the letter asks the publication to violate journalistic ethics by revealing its source.

“We refuse to answer the ministry’s questions in the notice letter because they harm the freedom of the press,” said the response from Eleven Media.

In the wake of this exchange, Maung Weit, a businessman who has faced legal action for his involvement in the drug trade, has announced that he will hold a press conference on Wednesday at 10am at the Novotel Hotel to discuss these events.

Coconuts Yangon has not been able to reach Maung Weit for comment.

Eleven Media is holding a press conference now to respond to U Win Htein’s statements to BBC Burmese.

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