Thursday, January 17, 2008

iTV and the Proxy War

TITV: proxy battle of a greater war



Bangkok Post

Money Quotes:

TITV was among the many battlegrounds where this war was fought. Look at what has happened. To relive events of the past year when it comes to the TITV saga, we have seen the state-seizure of the UHF airwaves, the levying of a fine insurmountable by any Thai business organisation, the passage of a law (by a junta-appointed legislature) which de facto nationalises a news network to allocate its use for new ''public-oriented'' purposes, and at last the laying-off of what have been deemed enemy combatants.

Surprised by the strategy of the state trying to win this proxy battle? No, in such a battle there is no room for mercy. In Roman times, it would've been the equivalent of invading a country, looting its gold, hoarding its food, killing its male citizens, raping its female citizens, then torturing its soldiers. That would be followed by sowing the land infertile, and to seal the victory there would of course be that relocation of the capital.

The assets of TITV have been seized by the government of Thailand, the concession nullified, the frequency reallocated, the employees spiritually executed, the headquarters relocated from Shin-land to Thai-land.

Are you beginning to get the picture? The proxy iTV/TITV battle saw attacks using capital in 2000 when Shin Corp took it over. It saw comparable attacks in 2007 and 2008 with exorbitant fines, legal manoeuvrings, and forceful expropriation. To be honest, the author here does not imply that one side is just and that the other is unjust. This is not about justice, nor is it about business. It is certainly not about obeying commercial contracts on the operation of a television network, or about fulfilling some minister's belief that a ''Thai PBS'' must be their brainchild or legacy from their excusably forgettable tenure in office. The end of iTV/TITV is, by proxy, the slaughtering of the Singaporean agent. It sends a message loud and clear to the rising capitalist class (Thai and foreign), bent on revolutionising the pecking order, that this old conservative establishment can, and will, fight back.

Simultaneously, it is a crystallised message that though the promotion from proletariat to bourgeoisie was achievable, dare to dream that next step and comeuppance would be guaranteed.

Someone asked me whether I was saddened over the death of independent television (iTV). The short answer is yes. The long answer, however, took me down an emotional path reflecting on the injustices of the past 3 years. Though epic and consequential the outdated feudalistic ''Sakdina'' rebirth vs politically-aspiring rising ''Capitalist'' war is, the collateral damage is simply too unbearable. The casualties of war so far include two, and potentially three, democratically-elected administrations. They include the 1997 Constitution, written by the people and for the people. They include the banning of 111 top-class politicians (not all, but some). They include a perfectly efficient and highly-rated TV network offering news and entertainment. They include a downgrading in political and economic credits in the eyes of the international community. They include all that amounts to a giant step back in what has been a gradual Thai transition to democracy.

One side will fight with cash and votes, while another will fight with tanks and edicts.

I think this is fairly accurate analysis of what is happening.


fall said...

Good article to read whole, if not a year or two late.

But will the idea be allow to spread, the "sakdina vs. capitalist battle"? I mean, aside from english newspaper. Will other thai newspaper dare print such soring truth?

Beside, is not Nattakorn consider to come from one of the old sakdina elite clan? (just a thought)

Or will he dare take it to the next step and classify who or what are consider "sakdina", "capitalist", or neutral?

Fonzi said...


I was going to mention but forgot to include the part about Nattakorn being part of the "sakdina elite."

But I know some Thais who are related to the old aristocracy who are pretty liberal.

When I think of the sakdina elite, I think of the old dinosaurs who think that because they are blue bloods they are entitled to run the country and like to tell everybody what to do because their great grandfather was a Chao Phaya back in the 19th century.

Bangkok Pundit said...

Fall/Fonzi: I imagine they have already revoked his "membership" particularly as he indirectly called on Prem to retire last week.

fall said...

(feint surprise)...Prem IS retired.