Man given prison time for defaming president
An NLD member has warned she is not afraid of bringing more lawsuits against detractors after filing charges that saw U Aung Win Hlaing, a member of the National Democratic Force, sentenced to nine months in prison.
CRITICS of the National League for Democracy leadership have been put on notice: A party member has warned that she will not hesitate to bring additional legal action against NLD insulters after she filed charges that saw a man imprisoned last month for calling President U Htin Kyaw “crazy” in a Facebook post.
“Our party is a democratic party and everyone can criticise and can give suggestions to the party and government as well, but I don’t stand for any insulting behaviour toward our leaders. That’s why I tried to open a file and then finished the case,” said Daw Yin Yin Htar, a member of the NLD’s Kayin State central committee, referring to the defamation suit she filed against U Aung Win Hlaing and the three-month trial that followed.
U Aung Win Hlaing, a Myawady resident, was convicted last month and sentenced to nine months in prison under section 66(d) of Myanmar’s Telecommunications Law, covering defamation, after calling U Htin Kyaw an “idiot” and “crazy” in Facebook posts.
The wife of U Aung Win Hlaing, Daw Hnin Hnin Win, confirmed the September 23 verdict with AFP.
U Aung Win Hlaing, who is a member of the National Democratic Force party, wrote the offending post in the wake of a presidential order dissolving a Myawady township committee on which he served as chair. The committee was set up under the Union Solidarity and Development Party government to facilitate development projects.
“I supported him as chair of that committee but his post was not like criticism, it was an insult to the leader of the country. The way he acted was very rude,” said Daw Yin Yin Htar. “I warned him to make an apology on his timeline but he didn’t. He told me to do whatever I like, so I opened a case file in June to take action regarding his stupid behaviour.”
Following the trial, she said she had faced questions about her decision to pursue legal action and on whether she was acting with the imprimatur of the NLD.
“I let party leaders know about my decision, of course. I did not have the approval of the party. I did it in my private capacity,” she said.
Though Daw Yin Yin Htwe said she considered herself to be on friendly terms with the defendant, she added that she did not feel regret for putting him behind bars and considered the punishment to be deserved.
“I like him personally, but I cannot stand his rude behaviour. I think the case is an example for others as I have seen many things insulting the party and government as well,” said Daw Yin Yin Htwe.
U Sein Bo, a lower house MP for the NLD representing Myawady township, said he felt “so sorry” that the defamation suit had been allowed to play out in his constituency and pledged to try to prevent similar cases in future.
“I told party members not to respond to any issue with personal emotions,” said the lawmaker.
“I heard others have been criticising the party in relation to the case. But now we can do nothing; it’s already happened. Next time, I will take care of it,” U Sein Bo said.
Several similar cases were prosecuted under the previous government, with online posts deemed insulting to Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and then-president U Thein Sein among the offences sending posters to prison.
The guilty verdict in U Aung Win Hlaing’s case is believed to be at least the third of its kind under the NLD government.