Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Deconstructing Thepchai Yong: Uncovering his Hypocrisy Concerning PTV


PTV protests nothing more than a masquerade

The pro-Thaksin remnants are trying to turn the tables on the Council for National Security (CNS) with the same charges that their former boss faces.

And it's turning out to be more a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

To rally support for their fight against the junta and the military-appointed Surayud government, the pro-Thaksin advocates need to come up with something provocative to draw people to their weekly rallies. Their own credentials alone are far from sufficient to create excitement.

It can be seen as tit for tat. Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was brought down essentially because of the wads of charges of corruption and conflicts of interest against him. So his supporters apparently believe they can probably undermine the CNS generals' credibility and the legitimacy of their September 19 coup using the same tactics employed by the anti-Thaksin coalition.

Love The Nation logic here. Thaksin is bad and evil; ergo, anybody associated with Thaksin is bad and evil and bought and paid for with Thaksin's money, and any person who questions the motivations of the military junta should be automatically be considered a Thaksin stooge.

General Saprang Kalayanamitr, an assistant Army chief and a key player in the power seizure last September, has become the lightning rod largely because of his high profile. The PTV executives who are spearheading the anti-CNS movement are zeroing in on the outspoken general, who has been accused of abusing his position as chairman of the board of directors of the Airports Organisation of Thailand (AOT) by taking family members along on a recent official trip overseas. Then, during their rally at Sanam Luang on Sunday, the TV station's executives unleashed another salvo against Saprang by accusing him of conflict of interest. They cast doubts over the recent awarding of a Bt12-million research and PR contract to a group of private analysts headed by Saprang's younger brother.

Instead of criticizing the PTV, The Nation should be praising it. Consider this: What if PTV hadn't reported General Saprang's dodgy behavior? Guess what? We would have known nothing. The Nation has done shit to cover the corruption and shady deals of this junta, and ironically, whatever scandals they have reported on has come from the Thaksinistas. The Nation has not done one investigative report on Thaksin and his government, and on the military junta and its government. Put simply, it is a worthless news organization.

Of course, the PTV executives and other pro-Thaksin groups shouldn't be denied the right to air their views publicly, even though what they say may be unpalatable to the military. After all, even the all-powerful junta needs to be held accountable in the absence of constitutional mechanisms of checks and balances.

But while the pro-Thaksin groups deserve political space, one cannot help questioning the motive behind their ongoing campaign to discredit the military and the Surayud government. The PTV people have dropped all pretence that they are fighting for media freedom.

If The Nation was doing its job, then what need there would be for PTV? Thepchai and company are pissed off that they can't act as exclusive independent news outlet spewing junta propaganda. With PTV, they have to actually report what PTV reports, which doesn't really mesh with The Nation's pro-junta agenda.

It's really pathetic for obvious reasons that these PTV executives are crying foul over what they claim to be an infringement on press freedom after their attempts to broadcast their programmes on a cable channel were scuttled. Since when have these people started to care about freedom of expression anyway? And since when did they transform themselves from politicians to "media people"?

Love the hypocrisy here. Thepchai thinks its appropriate that PTV is silent while that convicted criminal Sondhi Lim continues with his lies and bullshit on his illegal channel. And Thepchai has turned The Nation into a national disgrace with its pro-junta agenda and its backing of media and internet censorship.

It's laughable that people like Chakrapob Penkair, Veera Musigapong and Chatuporn Prompan, among the most ardent supporters of former prime minister Thaksin and now PTV executives, expect people to suddenly consider them media professionals the moment they take off their Thai Rak Thai label. And they want the world to believe that if they are singing Thaksin's praises today, they are doing it as journalists and not as his political stooges.

Personally, I can't stand these Thaksin cronies, and they are not officially journalists. But, so what? Many Thai politicians have become media stars. And Thepchai is certainly not a journalist either. His writing and interviewing skills are an embarrassment to the profession.

It doesn't require people of much intelligence to see through this political masquerade. Despite all the fanfare and initial media attention, PTV has proven itself to be nothing but a mouthpiece for the pro-Thaksin movement. In short, PTV was meant to be a propaganda machine and doesn't even deserve to be referred to as part of the mass media.

As an opinion columnist, Thepchai has the freedom to say what he wants. But his hypocrisy is amazing. The Nation is a disgrace and he is an abysmal editor with no credibility. Every since the junta came to power, Thepchai has become ubiquitous on Thai TV. Also, I have to wonder how much money The Nation's editors received from the junta's propaganda slush fund, which is supposedly used to buy the support of journalists and academics in the junta's effort to discredit Thaksin.

If Chakrapob, Veera and Chatuporn care so much about media freedom, where were they when their political master Thaksin started interfering with the media at the height of his political power. They didn't utter a word when TV and radio programmes critical of Thaksin were taken off the air one after another. They also pretended that all was going well when Thaksin used his political power and personal wealth to bear down on the print media.

Funny. Where does Thepchai stand now that his precious junta has started to attack media freedom in Thailand? Now that Thepchai is on the winning side, he justifies censorship that he once denounced under Thaksin? Who does he think he is fooling with this hypocrisy?

And if they sincerely want to make an issue out of alleged abuse of power and conflicts of interest involving a CNS general, they certainly deserve applause from members of the public. But first, they need to answer questions about the skeletons hidden in their political master's closet.

So why doesn't Thepchai interview them? I'd like to see that. Dig up those skeletons. This part I actually agree with. But do you think those lazy cowards at The Nation will do any hard work? I seriously doubt it.

The fact that Thaksin is the subject of a massive investigation for alleged corruption and conflicts of interest shouldn't be lost on the PTV executives. By ignoring the alleged misdeeds of the former prime minister, the PTV executives are turning their weekly protest into a charade. Or was it intended to be a political charade from the beginning?

Sometimes these Thai journalists are so incredibly stupid that it truly amazes me. What does Thaksin's corruption have to do with his supporters?

Why should Thai Rak Thai politicians lose their political rights just because of what their boss did? And, if they are guilty, investigate them and expose their crimes. But, like I said, The Nation doesn't do investigations. It only insinuates crimes without doing any investigative work.

Thepchai has the right to ask the questions of the PTV folks about their agenda, but not every Thaksin supporter is corrupt, and 19 million people shouldn't lose their rights just because of what their leadership allegedly did during its time in power.

And if Thepchai is making the allegations, he should at least have the decency to interview the PTV people about their political agenda, directly.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Sorry for the garbled post. Here it is again:

The positioning of this piece and the extremely offensive and racist cartoon in the Nation today create a distrubing impression.

They also create the clear impression that the writer of the article and the designer of the cartoon are members of an increasingly large group in Thailand, - the unintelligent zealots.

Enthusiasm is all well and good, but when an excess of enthusiasm is used solely to create the impression that the speaker is a better Thai because s/he is more extreme in their denunciation of 'the white man' [sic] and more extreme in their sycophantry to the king, elevating him beyond all reason and any kind of logic or usefulness, into the status of a God, then it becomes pernicious, unpleasant and dangerous.

Newspapers should take on the mantle of leaders in the community, and lead by example. It is very worrying that the Nation has apparently decided to fulfill both of these important roles in the racist and unintelligent way that they have done.

I will be cancelling by subscription to the Nation on the basis that it is becomeing increasingly more xenophobic and irrational in its appoach and content.

It has in fact become the epitome of the unintelligent zealot.