Wednesday, November 21, 2007

1976, Samak and The Nation's Hypocritical Collaboration with the Military

Principles 'can change'

The Nation

Samak tries to defend role in 1976 coup government after infamous October student massacre
Confronted publicly for the first time in this election campaign with questions about his controversial rightist past, People Power Party (PPP) leader Samak Sundaravej yesterday defended his rise to political prominence in the wake of the October 1976 Thammasat bloodbath by saying "principles can change".

Having attacked key political opponents for their open or tacit support for last year's bloodless coup, Samak adamantly suggested the violent upheaval in 1976, when student activists were framed, discredited and some were massacred, was something not unacceptable.

There were some heated moments between Samak and TV host Thepchai Yong, who posed the questions about the obvious contradiction of the PPP leader's political career.

Samak insisted during the televised interview on "Siam This Morning", broadcast on Channel 5, that he was not a hypocrite for accepting the post as PPP leader on an anti-coup principle when he himself had taken up a post under a military-installed government three decades ago.

"Principles can change with the situation," Samak told Thepchai, who is the Nation Group editor.

Samak was appointed the Interior minister in the government of Tanin Kraivixien, a right-wing administration that came about in the aftermath of the October 6, 1976, bloody crackdown on students at the Thammasat University. The crackdown was followed by a coup staged by the late Admiral Sa-ngad Chaloryoo.

Samak said his decision to take up the Interior post was to "rescue the country".

"That was then, this is now. People have a right to change their view over time," said Samak, defending his current anti-coup stance. He was visibly uncomfortable with the questions and at times shot back at Thepchai, suggesting that his stature as a reporter had also changed with time.

"Yes," said Thepchai. "But my principles have remained the same."


I should point out to the non-Thai TV watching audience that Thepchai, Jomkwan and Manat(the anchors) simultaneously work for The Nation and Channel 5, which is owned by the military.

Yes, this is the same Thepchai Yong who keeps harping about the need for a public broadcasting network that is "fair and balanced" while continuing to sell his soul to the military.

Thepchai announces that his "principles have remained the same." Indeed, he has the principles of a prostitute.

In The Nation's fantasyland, the 1976 coup was bad and the 2006 coup was good. And it attacks Samak for being hypocritical when The Nation has taken the same hypocritical position--only reversed.

In the US, one of my favorite TV journalists is Lowell Bergman, who is a professor of journalism at UC Berkeley and one of the producers of Frontline (an investigative news show) on America's public broadcasting network, PBS. If you ever saw the movie, The Insider, you will know who I am talking about.

Thepchai Yong ain't no Lowell Bergman. Lowell Bergman, unlike Thepchai, would not be a spokesperson/propagandist on a military owned TV channel. That notion would be repugnant to him. It would be shameless. Thepchai, Jomkwan, Suthichai and the rest have no shame.

Another thing I want to point, and I have said this before, part of the reason why The Nation is so hysterical about the PPP coming into power is that Suthichai and Thepchai and the other coup supporters/journalists will eventually be purged from military TV. You have to understand that the Yoon brothers are not journalists. They are unprincipled propagandists who want to control a large chunk of the mass media of Thailand. They want to spread the rubbish that is printed in the pages of The Nation far and wide. And anybody who disagrees with their moronic political agenda is either bought off by Thaksin or have been bribed by his "populist program" goodies. And what is even more ridiculous is that they aren't even good propagandists. They can't write and they can't even give decent interviews. Look at their production standards as well. High school journalism students in the poorest, most decrepit parts of the US have better production standards than they do.

Further, in any civilized country with a developed mass media, would journalists who work for a private media company while simultaneously working for a military broadcast channel, especially under a military dictatorship, have an credibility at all?

The answer is no. They would have as much credibility as journalists under a Stalinist regime.

People may wonder why I consistently harp on the Yoon Brothers and their minions.

It has nothing to do with Thaksin. It has to do with basic journalistic integrity.

And, for the record, if Suthichai and Thepchai are replaced by PPP and Thaksin propagandists after the election, that isn't right also.

I am convinced that one of the major reasons why Thai democracy is in such a crisis state is because Thai journalism is in the toilet. And the Yoon brothers are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Thanks to Bangkok Pundit for the upload, you can read his thoughts here.

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