Monday, May 7, 2007

Deconstructing Kavi: Still Delusional about Thai Journalism

Salvaging the future of democracy in Thailand

Never before has Thailand's future been as severely undermined as it is today.

Kavi Chongkittavorn

The Nation

Money Quotes:

First of all, right after the September 19 coup, freedom of expression began a fresh chapter - but not for long. While print media enjoy more freedom, electronic and online media continue to be held captive by narrow-minded bureaucrats and royalists. It is a huge dilemma. Can a country have a free press system in which certain media outlets enjoy more freedom than others? That used to be the conventional wisdom regarding Thai press freedom. Prior to the Internet age, it was generally accepted that the print media were freer than the electronic media, which has traditionally been under government control. Now, the ubiquitous online media outlets have been targeted for filtering and closure, which in the end will be in vain.

Let us be honest: All Thai media sucks. This notion that the print media was somehow freer from the controls of government is ridiculous. Freer how? Freer to lie? Freer to speculate? Freer to make accusations and theories without any evidence?

I just started to re-read Duncan McCargo's Politics and the Press in Thailand. I am convinced that even if there was no Printing Act of 1941 and other limitations, such as libel suits keeping people in line, and a 1st Amendment type of freedom for the Thai media, Thai journalism would still suck. I'm absolutely convinced of it. So even if Thai journalists had nobody breathing down their necks and no threat of legal action, they would be just as lazy and as incompetent as they are now. The problem isn't freedom. With Thaksin gone, the print media has had all the time in the world to prove Thaksin's crimes and show the entire world what a lying crook he was, and what have they done? Absolutely nothing. Who wouldn't want to read all the juicy investigative stories the media had to sit on because they were afraid of Thaksin and his cronies? I would love to read those stories. You'd think The Nation would want to tell how it was silenced into submission. Hell, you would think that the junta would have leaked its reasons for the coup by now. But, in seven months, nobody has delivered.

At present, Thailand is facing a concerted onslaught by new forces. Diplomacy efforts are being waged by high profile public-relations companies seeking to damage Thailand's reputation by giving it the thumbs down concerning its international obligations and democratic development. Thanks to Thaksin's ingenuity and enormous wealth, he can afford foreign lobbyists who have sought to ridicule the coup-makers and their supporters. Subsequently, he has taken his personal vendetta to the highest levels. Now the government is up against the Goliath of spin firms and lobbyist groups. The recent advertising campaign by the group USA for Innovation is a case in point.

These efforts to stigmatise Thailand are deplorable. To say that Thailand is moving in Burma's direction is preposterous. The rhetoric of this campaign does work well given the current situation in Thailand and the coup's aftermath. However to conjure up images of a tyrannical government that refuses to follow its international commitments and respect democracy is a bit outlandish. Those who have followed Thai politics and the history of its international engagements and obligations closely would dismiss such allegations.

It is always somebody else's fault. There was a coup in Thailand, without any credible reasons or evidence for overthrowing the government, yet when some people point this truth out it is somehow an international conspiracy to destroy Thailand's impeccable international reputation.

There is no evidence that Thaksin has been trying to destroy Thailand's good name. I've been following these stories closely. There are no proven linkages between Thaksin, accusations regarding Thailand's theft of US intellectual property, and Thailand going on America's priority watch list for IP violations.

No matter how much Kavi and the other Nation columnists want to spin their US lobbyist, PTV, and sinister undercurrent theories, they still have not proven that Thaksin is out to destroy Thailand right now. They still haven't proven his crimes during the last government. Not one shred of evidence. The truth is Thaksin is out of the country and he is an easy scapegoat because he can't defend himself. So make him the source of all evil in this world to distract from the real criminals who are incompetently running the government now.

Any fool with half a brain cell in his head knows that Thais are hawking pirated US products all over Thailand. This isn't a state secret. It has been going on for years and the laws haven't been enforced. Now the US government is putting its foot down.

But the press wants to frame this action on the part of the US as a Thaksin funded scam to destroy Thailand's reputation, as if there was a reputation out there to destroy. Coups, juntas, hookers and corruption? That is the reputation that Thaksin is out to destroy?

There is a scene in one of my favorite movies, Wall Street, where the Martin Sheen character says to the Charlie Sheen character, "Son, I don't go to sleep with no whore and I don't wake up with no whore. That is how I live with myself."

Well, The Nation went to bed with the junta and now it has woken up with the junta.

Instead of blaming Thaksin and US lobbyists for Thailand's sullied reputation, perhaps The Nation should acknowledge its horrible standards, its hypocrisy, its lack of journalistic integrity, and its culpability in giving this junta any credibility in the first place. In other words, The Nation should help rebuild Thailand's reputation by looking in the mirror first, re-evaluate its role in promoting the junta, and ask for forgiveness from the Thai people for its role in destroying Thai democracy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Diplomacy efforts are being waged by high profile public-relations companies seeking to damage Thailand's reputation by giving it the thumbs down concerning its international obligations and democratic development."

As u have many times pointed out: this critic of "Thailands failed international obligations and democratic development" should be coming from Thai journalists themselves. But here it is spinned so that reader gets idea that this is all just pr lie against Thailand and that is what this journalist has beef with. So, the journalist is not seeing anything bad in things, the bad is these evil Thaksin plots to dishonor Thailands fame.