Monday, April 27, 2009

Deconstructing Voranai Vanijaka: That Pesky Foreign Media Doesn't Understand Thailand

Bangkok Post:

Every time the international media hears words such as liberal, freedom, democracy, the people, champion of the poor, human rights, etc., they get all misty-eyed and weak at the knees.

But words such as conservative, military, coup, dictatorship, the Institution, elite, abuse of human rights, etc., could very well give them an epileptic attack, prompting them to get on Thailand's case like the red on Nicaraguan beans.

Thaksin is the first Thai politician smart enough to use the service of professional PR and marketing firms, since his very first election campaign as leader of the now defunct Thai Rak Thai party - and they have worked wonders for him. His expensive PR service well understands what tickles the international media.

When he told of his plight, many international analysts, observers, reporters, opinion writers and editors must have had tears in their eyes and nightmarish images of natives running amok, tearing down all the things that are holy and good, such as freedom and democracy.

No doubt, many immediately reached for their trusty Dummy's Guide to Writing about Third World Conflicts.

The formula is easy to digest: Thaksin + the poor + winning three general elections + UDD = democracy, which is good for Thailand. PAD + military coup + the Institution + PM Abhisit + elitists = dictatorship, which is bad for Thailand. It's like putting H2 and O together. The former gives you international sympathy, the latter gives you water - always.


We all really need to get better at what we do, both the local and international media. But I would like to specifically address the international media, not all, only the guilty ones, you know who you are.

You may not fan the fire intentionally. You may just be doing your job. Perhaps believing that you're doing the right thing. Perhaps Thaksin's PR firm has a special relationship with you.

But for the sake of plain old, basic human decency, I hope you don't feel any of that gives you the right to worsen the situation, trivialise and make mockery of over 60 million people who are struggling for our freedom, our democracy, our identity and our nationhood. The media should never be the mouthpiece for anyone.

The stupidity of this column is too much to bear.

The Bangkok Post has always carried the water for the "amart." Why doesn't he admit that?

I am really getting tired of The Nation and Bangkok Post bleating on and on about how the dumb foreigners just don't understand.

What has The Nation and the Bangkok Post ever done to make the dumb foreigners understand except to mostly publish unsubstantiated gossip and/or "he said, he said" quotes from the pooyai?

I want my readership to notice something, and it is very important thing to notice: Neither The Nation nor the Bangkok Post ever refute anything that is published in the foreign press when they are supposedly wrong.

They don't have bloggers like me who fisk the stories and tear the stories apart line by line.

Their sad and banal modus operandi is to say: Those pesky foreigners don't understand Thailand, Thaksin has paid everybody off, and they can't read Thai and get the real stories in the Thai language press. How convenient!

The Nation and the Bangkok Post should be ashamed. They are basically admitting to the whole world that they are intentionally withholding information from the international community by refusing to publish stories that are in Thai and not making that "special and privileged' information available in English. Both The Nation and the Bangkok Post have Thai newspapers. It wouldn't take much effort to translate what the Thai language reporters have written into English.

What kind of crazy incompetent newspaper editors would scream from the rooftops that these idiot foreigners don't understand because we keep all the facts to ourselves, then blame the entire world for not getting the stories right?!

What is even more insane is that these Thai editors think every story about Thaksin should be prefaced with a litany of his crimes to make them more credible. Never mind the fact that most of them do that, but when has the Bangkok Post ever prefaced a story about the military by giving a litany of its crimes? The answer is never. Why doesn't the Bangkok Post ever preface its stories about Newin and Suthep about their histories of corruption? Or Sanan, or Chavalit, or Snoh, or Barnharn? How come the Bangkok Post never prefaces stories about Abhisit's full throated support to oust Thaksin on the stages of the PAD before the coup? Why doesn't the Bangkok Post preface stories about Foreign Minister Kasit with an explanation of his involvement in the takeovers at the airport and government house?


Trirat said...

Totally agree; don't forget most of these 'journalists' have atrocious English (yes, they work on English papers). Essentially they are engaged in Thai-style writing, no need for investigation, attribution, analysis. And of course, no independent thought: if they didn't see eye-to-eye with their bosses, they'd be looking for a new job, pronto. This is one more thing about Thailand which depresses me.

Rich said...


Thai journalists are the same as Thai anything - second rate.

They do what they are told and hope that someone notices later they have done then a favour.

That's the way to get on in Thailand. Impress someone with your ability to crawl up their ass.

I had thought the BP was getting better with the new man in charge (yes I know about editorial freedom but I did hope he would introduce the journos to the concept of editorial integrity) - 'twas not to be.

Hey ho. Same ole same ole.