Thursday, February 8, 2007

Deconstructing Sanitsuda Ekachai: Chief Hypocrite of the Bangkok Post

Media's noble principles and reality

If we are unhappy with the global media's coverage in favour of Thaksin Shinawatra and accuse them of being out of touch with the local reality and sentiment, it should make us also rethink our own media's values and practices. The media, global or local, like to advertise themselves as value-free. Objectivity, they say, is their mode of operation and truth is their goal. We all know, however, that the there is a big disparity between reality and the media's noble principles.

If anything, the positive coverage of Mr Thaksin by the Western, global media only reiterates their firm, unchanging support for corporate-led globalisation. No matter who is in power, they will get the Western media's support as long as they are willing to open their country for investment and financial transactions that benefit their investors.

Here comes the anti-globalization, anti-West bullshit. What is the relationship between Thaksin's interviews with media outlets ranging from Asahi Shimbun to CNN and Time to Al-Jazeera and "corporate led globalization?" There is no evidence that these news agencies are interviewing Thaksin because he is good for international capitalists from those countries hosting those news agencies, and there is no evidence of collusion between those news agencies and international corporations heavily invested in Thailand. Besides, Thailand is a third-tier country for Western capital. Look at any financial portfolio of any fund manager who invests in the developing world. Many could care less about Thailand. In terms of FDI, Western capital is not as hot about Thailand compared to other countries, because of the dismal education standards, bad English skills, and low productivity of the Thais. In other words, no companies are trying to tear down Thailand's walls to get in and exploit it. That is a right-wing myth that has been perpetuated by the brain dead of the Thai intelligentsia for a long time. Also, if the West had such a love affair with Thaksin because of his pro-Western capitalist policies, the SET would have dropped like a ton of bricks after the coup.

And if Sanitsuda doesn't want foreign capital in Thailand, why doesn't she start a political movement to get rid of it in Thailand?

She can start with the foreigners who advertise in the Bangkok Post, then move on to the foreigners who purchase the newspaper. After, she can start a movement to eliminate tourism, then foreign direct investment. I dare her to make an announcement in her column.

Why doesn't she put into action what she preaches?

But I guarantee Sanitsuda will continue to hypocritically lecture from her columnist's perch about the evils of the West while continuing to benefit from all of its material progress.

If wasn't for the West, ungrateful Sanitsuda wouldn't have a job as a journalist, because the evil farang are responsible for introducing newspapers and the electronic into Thailand. Before the farang came to Thailand, most Thai women were illiterate and couldn't read. Before the farang and global capital, there was no education-no public schools or universities. Sanitsuda should look around. Every material comfort that she has was developed by evil farang capitalists.

Sanitsuda should be kissing the feet of Western capitalists. Otherwise, where would she be without them? She would be out in the fields in the hot sun twelve hours a day half naked shucking rice, as well as being a slave to her husband, who without the enlightenment of Western values could sell her and her childen into slavery any time he wished.

Remember how we were so frustrated with the Democrat government for bowing to the pressures from the IMF after the economic meltdown, and how we embraced Mr Thaksin's policy to rescue national pride?

Yes. We remember that right-wing bullshit.

Backing the Democrats' pro-IMF stance and suspicion of Mr Thaksin's populist platforms, the Western media severely bashed Mr Thaksin's economic policy for fear of him turning Thailand inward economically.

Yes, that happened.

It turned out to an empty fear. The telecom tycoon soon made it clear that he believes money has no nationality and no boundaries should exist for big players. That's how he has become the darling of the Western investors and the Western press, given their support for free trade and investment which works in their favour.

More lies and bullshit. When has Thaksin ever become a darling of the Western media? Where is one article or TV interview with one Western news outlet that proves this Western love fest for Thaksin? I love this right-wing reactionary bullshit line: The West was in love with Thaksin because he was selling the country out to Western capitalists. This is has been the standard right-wing nationalist mantra going back for decades.

Where is the evidence?

Sanitsuda is a shameless liar.

It does not matter if the poor will suffer from free but unfair trade. It does not matter if the national leader was abusing his power to write new rules and regulations so his companies and those of his cronies benefited from them. It does not matter if he incited violence and ethnic hatred that spun out of control. It does matter if he is a liar. As long as he is still supporting corporate-led globalisation while the clumsy junta in Thailand appears increasingly nationalistic and inward-looking, they will continue to allow Mr Thaksin to use their publications to lie to the world.

Has Sanitsuda been taking right-wing nationalist lessons from The Nation's editors? The Bangkok Post allowed Thaksin to use its newspapers to lie and scam the Thai people for six years. Where was the condemnation of Thaksin in the Bangkok Post during those six years while he was doing those horrible things to the country? Sanitsuda is a shameless hypocrite. Further, the Bangkok Post sold out its journalistic integrity when it turned into the Thaksin government's puppet and whored itself for advertising revenue instead of confronting him.

But is the Thai national media free of the same sin? When it comes to objectivity and concern for local sentiment, can we say we are holier?If we accuse the Western media of being pro corporate-led globalisation, haven't our mainstream media always been a blind supporter of ruthless economic development? It does not matter how destructive it is to the environment and the locals' way of life. It does not matter how it makes the rich richer and the poor poorer _ as long as the city people and businesses benefit from it.

This idiotic woman doesn't know who pays her bills. Look how she jumps on the feudal socialist bandwagon. I wonder what type of house she owns, the car she drives, the TV she watches, the computer she uses, the mobile phone she babbles into, and every other gadget that she uses which is a product of capitalism. I wonder if she lives the sufficiency lifestyle while accepting the money from the endless ads that finance the publishing of her newspaper.

Upholding growth-oriented economic development like a religion, our media also allows the government to advertise their mega industrial projects, reporting them as fact while belittling the local villagers as anti-development hillbillies and painting their protests as a nuisance.

When the current buzzword is por piang or sufficiency, we also continue to be the authorities' mouthpiece, failing again to question the junta's use of royal development advice to legitimise their power-grabbing game.

The media, global or local, are not value-free. They are shaped by their own country's vested interests, political ideologies and the businesses. They are influenced by their prejudice, patriotism, fear and a sense of moral superiority. They are also chained by deadlines and business competition which make it hard for them to go beyond the surface of a phenomenon.

When we realise that the media's objectivity is only a myth, we will stop being a passive recipient of news and information. We will stop pinning our hopes for change on the media and start taking things into our hands.

That is when the media will have to wake up to their mission, the pursuit of truth and justice _ or risk becoming irrelevant.

Sanitsuda Ekachai is Assistant Editor, Bangkok Post.


Thai media's noble principles? I suggest the reader go to a magazine stand or sit in front of a TV and read and watch the Thai media in action for at least two days. There is nothing in the Thai media that is principled or noble. Engaging the Thai media is like giving oneself a lobotomy.

What is so outrageous about this column is that this woman clearly benefits from everything she condemns. The Bangkok Post is clearly a product of globalized world. She is a Thai writing for an English language newspaper that serves an international audience and accepts advertising from multi-national corporations.

I don't see her announcing that she quitting her job and going to live a subsistence lifestyle with the peasants.

I don't see her leading the revolution against materialism and ridding Thailand of farang capitalists.

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