Computers, journals “sunlight” confiscated as staff watch helplessly

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moe hein moe thee zun

In  what  came  across  as  an  arm  twisting  incident  by  a  group  of  influential  people, including  relatives  of  Myanmar  government  ministers,  a  group  of  men  muscled  their way into the newsroom of The Sunlight in Yagon late Friday night and confiscated 14 computers and remaining journals,  the publication’s chief editor said.

Moe Hein, chief editor of The Sunlight news journal, told the press yesterday that the journal’s publisher Yu Naing, retired Senior General Than Shwe’s grandson Phoe La Pyae, and Minister of Commerce’s son Thurein were among the group that confiscated the computers and journals.

He  said  they  were  accompanied  by  the  news  outlet’s  publisher,    Yu  Naing,  who appeared  helpless  and  remained  outside  the  building  as  the  group  of  men  prowl through the newsroom and frightened the staff along the way.

“A group of 15 or 20 people came to the office with six cars around midnight. Minister of Commerce U Win Myint’s son Ko Thurein, Phoe La Pyae, and his friends were in the group.  They  told  the  kids  [the  staffs]  who  they  were  and  demanded  the  remaining  journals.  The  kids  had  to  give  them  as  they  were  scared.  They also  demanded  [the security guard] to open the door, but he refused to opened it. They then got inside from a  door  from  the  other  side.  One  of  the  kids  opened  the  door  when  he  saw  his acquaintance and the whole group went inside. They covered the CCTV after turning off  the  lights  and  took  away  the  systems  units  from  the  computers.  They  took  14 [system units] out of 22 computers,” said Moe Hein.

Moe Hein said he only knew about the incident at 3 am when he called the office to ask about whether the staffs have any difficulties in distributing the remaining journals. He believes the incident took place due to two articles in Friday’s issue of the journal that criticised Phoe La Pyae, Miss Universe Myanmar beauty pageant, and the children of  the  country’s  elites  who  the  publication  accused  of  having  tendency  to  take advantages of people.

“The author Sitthuye Bala Min Htin wrote ‘Moonlight over Moscow’ which is about the Miss Universe beauty pageant, cronies, and car races. Another author, Htaung Thuye Ba Oak, wrote ‘Everything will go ablaze with a hoof beat of a horse, ‘ which is about how  the  children  of  the  authority  continued  to  take  advantages  over  the  public  from 1962  to  present  days.  We  only  urged  them  to  stop  doing  those  acts.  It  was  not  a personal attack,” said Moe Hein. According to him, the journal’s publisher Yu Naing and Phoe La Pyae remained outside  while the rest of the group went inside the office.

“U Yu Naing was there but he didn’t go in. He was there because he’s my friend. He was brought along to the office. He couldn’t refuse them….He didn’t have the power to stop this. He’s only a normal trader and a normal trader is afraid of everyone. He might  have  tried  to  stop  them  from  going  inside,  but  he  couldn’t…Phoe  La  Pyae  didn’t  go inside. He remained in the car outside,” said Moe Hein.

He continued that five people can stand as witnesses for the claim that Phoe La Pyae and Thurein were included in the group although he does not have CCTV footages as  the group had not only covered the CCTV with a paper but also taken the system unit of the CCTV.

He has not reported this incident to the police yet and has only been consulting with his lawyer, he said.

An editor from The Sunlight journal, on condition of anonymity, said that less than four shareholders of the journal are the children of ministers and retired generals, but Moe Hein  denied  that  claim  by  stating  that  he  holds  90  percent  of  the  shares  while  his relatives  hold  the  remaining  10  percent.  He  also  insisted  that  this  was  not  a  share issue.

He  added  that  the  articles  for  the  journal were  not  selected  by  him  alone  but  by  the editorial team.

Moe Hein served as secretary of the Democratic Party for a New Society and travelled to the United States from Thailand. He returned to Myanmar less than a year ago and holds an American passport. There have been rumours of him having connections with entrepreneurs  who  are  close  to  the  military  intelligence  and  the  government  even before his return to Myanmar, but he has denied these rumours.

The Daily Eleven was unable to contact publisher Yu Naing and Thurein to ask about the Friday night incident.


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