Monday, August 13, 2007

2 Bangkok: The Nation Prints Letter Insulting US Ambassadors...and Breaks the Law

Here is the original letter:

US used the coup as an excuse to end talks

Re: "Americans stacking the deck led to collapse of Thai-US free-trade talks", Letters, August 1.

Prathip Gidrangsri pointed out that the obnoxious behaviour of two corrupt American ambassadors to Thailand, Ralph Leo Boyce and Darryl Norman Johnson, scuttled the proposed US-Thai Free Trade Agreement.In a letter on August 3, "Thais the big losers in trade disputes with US", Major Mark A Smith (Retired) of Bangkok took issue with Mr Prathip and defended Boyce and Johnson.

In a long letter, Smith tried to say that the Thais were wrong and the Americans were right and that Thailand had lost a great opportunity.

The idea behind banning advertising of alcohol and tobacco products is to protect youths. The Thais, in banning the advertising of alcohol and tobacco products, are following the example of many other countries and Boyce, in trying to get the local ban removed or reduced, was definitely going against the grain.

Thailand has at least one million people with Aids, close to 2 per cent or more of the population. Thailand's decision to copy and distribute expensive American anti-Aids drugs on its own was a natural response to a national emergency. Johnson's attempt to stop the Thais ran counter to sound health practice and disease control. Nobody demanded that the millions of tsunami victims pay for help before they received it.

The ouster of the tyrannical Thaksin Shinawatra in a coup last year did not inhibit the Japanese from signing a Thai-Japan FTA. Nor did it inhibit Thailand's trade with China and India. Washington was embarrassed by the behaviour of Boyce and Johnson. The coup in Thailand offered Washington, which had very cosy dealings with Thaksin and was upset to see him go, an excuse to break off FTA talks.

I should point out that the US rushed to sign a nuclear accord with India recently, a country that never signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. There was nothing reasonable in this and, indeed, no good explanation for this conduct has been offered. One really doesn't need one. Greed and corruption were the all too obvious motives.

Gen Amos T Halftrack


Apology - On August 6, we published a letter in the Letters to the Editor section titled, "US used the coup as an excuse to end talks", which contained an unjustifiable and totally unfair characterisation of American Ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce and his predecessor, Darryl Norman Johnson. We apologise for the lapse in editorial oversight that allowed this inflammatory letter to run. Ambassador Boyce has always been recognised as a diplomat of the highest professional integrity and a great friend of Thailand.

The Nation

Normally, I wouldn't care about this little incident. An idiot writes a barely coherent letter slamming the US; The Nation prints it. This happens all the time.

However, this is the same newspaper that believes the Thai government should chase down people and corporations all over the planet that insult the king. Indeed, The Nation just applauded the recent draconian Cyber Crime Bill because it has sections that explicitly criminalized lese-majeste in cyber space.

Now, some of you are probably wondering what the hell does this letter/apology have to do with lese majeste.

Here are a couple sections of the penal code:

Section 133. Whoever defames, insult or threatens the Sovereign, his Queen or her Consort, Heir-apparent, or Head of a foreign state shall be punishable with imprisonment of one to seven years or fine of two thousand to fourteen thousand baht or both.

Section 134. Whoever defames, insults, or threatens a foreign Representative accredited to the Royal Court shall be punished with imprisonment of six months to five years or fine of one thousand baht or both.

YouTube actually doesn't produce videos. It is only a website where people can upload their personal videos. But, The Nation, in its unethical and dishonest propaganda campaign, made YouTube culpable for what one of its users did. Not only that, in its recent editorial supporting the new Cyber Crime Bill, it actually was ecstatic that the Thai government would be able to shut down any ISPs that allowed acts of lese majeste to pass through its servers.

So, if we take The Nation's logic full circle and apply to its own activities, it should be surrendering to the nearest police station shortly, for breaking the law. And if it had any intellectual consistency and professional integrity, it would shut itself down just like it insisted that ISPs should be shut down for breaking laws over offensive speech.

Also, I have to wonder if The Nation will give the name and address to the authorities to prosecute the letter writer. After all, this is the same newspaper that was cheering minister Sitthichai in his hunt for the producers of the YouTube videos.

Of course, I don't advocate anybody going to jail for politically expressing themselves, but I just thought it was interesting to blog about yet one more example of The Nation's blatant hypocrisy.


hobby said...

An idiot writes a barely coherent letter slamming the US


IMO the grovelling apology by The Nation is the most disturbing aspect of this matter.

Anonymous said...

I think people should realize that e-criminals are indeed very dangerous people. And Thailand should be in step with other nations to develop laws that would deter and punish such e-criminals.

Read BBC's article "Tackling the hackers face-to-face" and learn how sophiscated these criminals are - - even the FBI at a loss how to cope (much less apprehend e-criminals). >

I too am wary of the junta's cyber law because the military are a repressive and a vengeful lot. But that does not remove the need for new laws to deter,track and punish e-criminals.

BTW, Fonzi I suggest you take an inspiration at that new blogsite

I don't think it will alter your undeclared love for Thaksin - - but it may help you learn how 'deconstructing' should be properly done - - fairly, without anger, with minimum of bias or prejudgment.

fall said...

The Nation breaking and want to get away with the very law it support.
Bwah ha ha ha.

Good catch, fonzi.

Unknown said...

My sympathies lie with the Nation on this one. But they should have changed "corrupt" to "morally bankrupt". Or just deleted the word entirely. But it just makes you wonder what the editorial page editor was doing when that letter was sent. Off writing another one of his pointless, finger-wagging editorials, probably.