CREDIT EMG 2.JULY 2013
A Parliamentary commission has failed to disclose the identity of Dr Seik Phwar, an anonymous blogger who has published articles criticising opposition parties, independent media and MP’s.
The commission was formed in February to investigate Dr Seik Phwar after he posted an article titled ‘Above the Law’ in which he accused the Parliament of overstepping their boundaries for voting to amend the Constitutional Tribunal Law.
After five months of investigation, the commission submitted their report on Monday but the discussion only ended after the Union Assembly Speaker warned the blogger, without revealing his real identity.
While reading out the report, the commission’s chairman Mya Nyein told the Parliament that the commission had investigated 14 people including the media and officials from the Presidents Office and the Ministry of Information over the past five months.
He presented a summary of the interviews conducted by the commission. During the investigation, Dr Thein Myint, Wai Phyo, and Nay Htun Naing of Eleven Media Group told the commission that they suspected Deputy Information Minister Ye Htut of using the pseudonym Dr Seik Phwar.
They provided information connecting Dr Seik Phwar, the Padauk Myay website, and a Facebook user who goes by the name Sit Aung, who writes slanderous articles about members of opposition parties including Aung San Suu Kyi.
Wai Phyo, Chief Editor of Eleven Media Group, told the commission that an article written under the pseudonym Seik Phwar was once featured in Smart News journal, where Khin Maung Nyo now works as a chief editor.
Based on the usages in the article, it can be deduced that the article was written by someone who has extensive knowledge of the media. While most critics rarely care for formal usage in their writings, the author formally addressed the President with respect in his article, according to the report.
Wai Phyo also told the commission that a Facebook account with the username Sit Aung used a photo of Deputy Minister Ye Htut taken during his trip to Europe as his profile picture. The account was deleted after the Parliament formed the commission to investigate Dr Seik Phwar, according to the report.
Nay Htun Naing, executive editor of Eleven Media, told the commission that Ye Htut denied that he was Sit Aung even though his photo was not easy to obtain online and they both have similar writing styles.
Ye Htut, however, denied that the accusations linking him to Dr Seik Phwar and said that the Ministry of Information had not assigned anybody to write the article. Khin Maung Nyo said he was the one who downloaded the online article of Dr Seik Phwar and emailed it to the journal’s office so only he is responsible for publishing the article in the journal.
Director of the President Office, Zaw Htay told the commission that he only learnt about Dr Seik Phwar’s blog after MP Dr Soe Yin submitted the proposal to investigate the blogger in Parliament. When he was interviewed by the media, he told them to ask Ye Htut about the blogger’s identity only because the deputy minister is the spokesperson of the President Office.
He also denied that he knew Sit Aung.
Union Assembly Speaker Khin Aung Myint said Dr Seik Phwar may be a member of a propaganda group and his articles have been biased and emotional, rather than pointing out the tasks and duties of the Parliament with good intention.
Although he has intended to expose Dr Seik Phwar’s identity and have him explain his defamatory comments, the commission found that Dr Seik Pwar did not have a sense of duty to take responsibility for his writing.
“It would be like looking for a needle in the haystack,” said Khin Aung Myint.
“Although he accepted the apology Dr Seik Phwar posted on his blog on January 20, a journalist should have the courage to write the truth and take responsibility for his writings with accountability so he wants to warn the blogger not to repeat his actions in the future,” he added.