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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Iran and Thailand

New in Bangkok:


However, both in Iran and Thailand, it appears to be the case that the will of the people is to be denied. Here of course a military coup and newly installed judges were employed to oust the democratically-elected government and then find pretexts to ban the parties involved altogether so that the military could install a compliant right-wing puppet. In Iran, it appears to be the case that attempts have been made and are being made to prevent the popular vote being recognised – violence is currently being used to suppress the desire for democracy and it is not yet clear what the results will be (apart from inevitable bloodshed).


In both countries, the state authorities have been perfectly willing to use violence to disperse pro-democracy protestors – there seems to be more scrutiny on the Iranian situation (although of course it is a much more secretive and controlled society so access is more limited) and the international media is less willing to accept state-provided pretexts than they were in the case of Thailand.


In both countries, real power is wielded by extra-constitutional figures who prefer to act largely behind the scenes (or sometimes blatantly in public knowing that the media will remain quiescent). In Iran, these figures clothe themselves in religious robes and therefore make themselves immune to criticism – extensive propaganda campaigns are used to promote a state ideology equating religion with patriotism and virtue and aiming to make any dissident considered to be vicious and evil and an ‘enemy of the state.’


This is what the military junta supporting hypocrites at the Bangkok Post had to say about Iran:


The presidential election in Iran has gone from undignified farce to international concern in the past week. Riots and large, partisan demonstrations turned deadly on Monday, 72 hours after voters turned out in record numbers at peaceful polling stations. The uncontrolled protests over a supposedly democratic election have caught attention everywhere. But President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iranian authorities are at least responsible for what is happening, by harassing foreign journalists and barring election observers.


Just like Thailand.

Journalists, of course, can cause a lot of trouble for a government, and foreign journalists can cause it worldwide. But one basic facet of their work is to ferret out the cheating, fixing and buying of elections. If they find this, it certainly makes an incumbent look bad, and could threaten his or her regime. But if they fail to find this, the election process gains instant acceptance.


The Bangkok Post in its entire history has never ferreted out the cheating, fixing and buying of elections.


Election observers have the same basic chore. There are many such groups around the world who have high standards of objectivity. They have the experience at watching elections to back them up. Iran barred all such groups, whether they were independent or sponsored by groups such as the United Nations.


So does Thailand. The powers at be and the Thai media, like the Bangkok Post, goes into right-wing hysterics about foreign observers, then complain--without evidence--that every election is bought.


The harassment of the press has been particularly distasteful. President Ahmadinejad's regime has reportedly blocked foreign websites, including the BBC, and jammed radio broadcasts, including Voice of America. The local bureau of the news channel Al-Arabiya was closed for a week.


Just like Thailand.


If objective journalists or trained observers were present at the election, it would be possible to assess the competing assertions of victory. But now, media rights group Reporters Without Borders has urged all nations to refuse to recognise the results of the election because of the censorship and violence towards news personnel. President Ahmadinejad and Mr Mousavi both claim to have captured well over 60% of the ballots. Obviously one of them is wrong. Neither has the credibility needed to foster public or foreign belief.


Maybe the Bangkok Post should practice what it preaches. It neither believes in objective journalism nor trained observers. It only believes in taking orders from the military and the amart. That has been its journalistic legacy for decades.

Following the allegations of vote-buying and ballot-stuffing, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has ordered an investigation of the election. Iranians, like all people, deserve the most honest election possible. To get that, Mr Khamenei should also order that acceptable and experienced international observers help with the investigation, along with foreign journalists to observe and report. That way, Iran may yet salvage an honest and credible result from the inadequate polls.


Why does the Thai media advocate that foreign countries do things that it refuses to do in Thailand?


Wouldn't it be nice to have foreign election observers and journalists checking the next Thai election? It would take away the convenient excuse that every election is bought by Thaksin.


Oh wait, can't have that, because the Thai media will scream bloody murder about national sovereignty.


That is one of the things that drives me crazy about the Thai media. They refuse to do any investigative reporting to uncover unsavoury shenanigans, then complain when foreigners interfere/uncover the truth in defense on national pride.

2 comments:

antipadshist said...

actually what's going on in Iran at the moment is not exactly "people's revolution", but to some, even Western Media, it looks like rather an anti-democratic reactionary movement, or like a coup ! but of course Bkk Post and the rest of Thai media wouldn't publish such a version.


read this :

Guardian: an attempted coup in Iran?

These are the birth pangs of Obama's new regional order

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/18/iran-elections-us-foreign-policy

Took said...

As usual, Fonzi, you go way too far and bring down your own argument. Of course election observers and foreign media are allowed in Thailand - or encouraged even. There is no block on them at all, and no group anywhere in the world ever has said otherwise. If you'd not froth so much, you'd make a better critic. Really.