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Foreign media express anxiety over Thailand’s press freedoms

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Foreign media express anxiety over Thailand’s press freedoms | The Thaiger
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Foreign journalists in Thailand are expressing concern about what they are calling restrictions on press freedom. Speaking at a recent Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand forum, speakers said that the current laws are “proving to be an obstacle to reporting of the anti-government protests”, despite government assurances there have been no curbs on freedom of expression.

The “Journalism Without Fear or Favour” forum was held to discuss regional press freedoms. The event was sponsored by the Netherlands Embassy in Bangkok to commemorate the World Press Freedom Conference 2020 on December 9 and 10 in The Hague. The event also coincided with International Human Rights Day on December 10.

Matthew Tostevin, the Southeast Asia editor for Reuters, spoke of the legal challenges which foreign media face when reporting news in the region, particularly referencing Thailand’s lese majeste law – Section 112 of the Criminal Code – and the prevarication over its implementation during a period of protests targeting the country’s monarchy.

“At a certain point this year, we were told it was not being applied. As the media reflected, there has been a whole great deal more reporting in both local and international media of the criticisms of the monarchy.”

“But now, of course, the sort of question is over how long such openness can last and how that affects us and our reporting from this country.”

The Bangkok Post asked the deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek for a comment on the matter. She responded saying that the government had not placed any restriction on the freedom of its media or citizens, but everybody must abide by the law (somewhat of an oxymoron within the same sentence).

“It [the news] must be truthful and undistorted”.

Matthew also described the week-long imposition of the State of Emergency in October that “outlawed the publication of information that could threaten national security or create fear as well as the criminal defamation law that intimidates journalists”.

He also made examples of other regional cases ranging from censorship and lawsuits, to imprisonment and bans on access to some areas, eg. Myanmar’s Rakhine state and Indonesia’s Papua province.

In April, Reporters Without Borders published its annual World Press Freedom Index. Generally, and historically, South East Asian nations have performed poorly in this list. Malaysia outranks its neighbours scoring 101st place out of 180 countries, followed by Indonesia (119), the Philippines (136), Myanmar (139), Thailand (140), Cambodia (144), Brunei (152), Singapore (158), Laos (172), and Vietnam (175).

Tan Hui Yee, the Indochina bureau chief for Singapore’s The Straits Times, says that press freedom had regressed since new cybersecurity laws were hatched by authoritarian governments in Thailand and Vietnam when the term “fake news” gained currency and then labelling any criticism of their governments as “fake’ and therefore against the law.

“But the problem with the term is that everything is lumped into a hazy mess. Fake news can be used to described false information and disinformation, but also opinions you disagree with. The pandemic has further put restrictions on the press with the nation having been under a state of emergency since March.”

“They say they need this to coordinate Covid-19 responses, but we have no idea how long this emergency will go on or whether it will be used for other purposes.”

On this point, Thai government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri told the Bangkok Post that the current emergency decree in Thailand, extended five times since it was introduced in March this year, is simply being enforced only to contain the spread of the coronavirus. (The current extension is in place until the start of January, and given the current situation in Thailand, appears likely to be extended again)

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Chiang Mai

Note from The Thaiger:

As a media player in Thailand we’ve never been contacted by, or been asked to edit or remove stories by, police, members of the parliament, government or Army. The Thaiger has published, from time to time, some vigorous editorials against various Thai government and official decisions, and their actions, without any consequences.

As a foreign-owned business, we take our lead from the local Thai media and some of the larger foreign English-speaking media. Although there are a few no-go issues in Thailand, or where words need to be more carefully selected than in other stories, The Thaiger finds Thailand’s press reasonably robust, broad in coverage and wide in opinions.

Many of the functions expected from Thai press by politicians and officials aren’t written but are instead long-term conventions and nuanced cultural behaviours. Certainly there are also times where some members of the press are ostracised and threatened with criminal charges, but these are rare.

Whilst foreign media often find a lot of these subtleties confounding and see them as barriers, long-time journalists working in Thailand are usually happy to resort to coded language and fluffy writing to report sensitive stories and continue their work.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ynwaps

    Monday, December 14, 2020 at 9:42 am

    Your website was/is blocked on some WiFi networks, just like pornhub.

    • Avatar

      gosport

      Monday, December 14, 2020 at 10:32 am

      It is reported Pornhub is ranked the second mosted visited in Thailand

      • Avatar

        Preesy Chepuce

        Thursday, December 17, 2020 at 3:05 pm

        Perhaps it’s the best news site in Asia? Plenty of scoops being exposed.
        I went past a shop the other day called “Sushi Hub” using the same logo… and had waitresses serving me pizza with Pornhub t-shirts, apparently oblivious. So much for banning…

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Monday, December 14, 2020 at 11:15 am

    It would entail a lot of work to monitor all the media, and if they ban any item this would just draw attention and more people would read the item.
    Banning any media business would be futile. the business would just surface again, and if necessary in a foreign country.
    Put simply, the government want to control the media but are unable.
    IMHO

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Monday, December 14, 2020 at 5:30 pm

      Mine too, Toby, FWIW – the publicity over the BBC article / facebook likes is a perfect example of a home goal.

  3. Avatar

    john

    Monday, December 14, 2020 at 11:39 am

    With Youtube censoring comment about all the corruption during the US election including threatening channel closures, an inquiry into the Facebook monopoly and biases, and Twitter restricting President Trump – and then on top of all that they have the nerve to talk about Thailand “press freedoms”.

    • Avatar

      Bruno

      Monday, December 14, 2020 at 5:25 pm

      Bullshit – there was no fraud in that election ! wake up there is no evidence and the whole world are so happy to get rid of Mr. Trump.- a idiot and liar. the whole world hate. There is NO corruption in that election and surprime court has dismissed it like anybody else win and loose with the same face ! or go to a country with dictatorship like Republicans want to establish in USA – – do you want to live like in North Korea ? trumps friends. stop that bull shit talk . Republicans dont care about american workers only enrichen themselves.. wake up the whole world are laughing at you !

      • Avatar

        Steve

        Monday, December 14, 2020 at 9:20 pm

        Demotard fool! There is heaps of evidence! You are the one with the bullshit talk!

        • The Thaiger

          The Thaiger

          Monday, December 14, 2020 at 9:31 pm

          I think the US state courts and Supreme Court have already ruled on the affidavits and ‘evidence’ presented to them during the litigation. If the courts decide that there is no admissible evidence then where to go. We just ask the question in good faith.

          • Avatar

            john

            Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 8:14 am

            At this stage the decades long corruption is systemic – you are assuming the courts are independent – they are unfortunately not. And see what happens when a judge does try to do their job like in the case of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas overseeing the very sensitive case of Epstein/ Deutche Bank – dead son, injured husband.

        • Avatar

          albert zweistein

          Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 3:14 am

          Show me the heaps of evidence. It only exists in sick, stubborn heads, brainwashed by the orange man in the white house.

          • Avatar

            Issan John

            Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 10:34 am

            albert, you’re wasting your time with people like john who’ll believe what he wants to regardless of the obvious and irrefutable facts.

            Look at the nonsense he just wrote about ” U.S. District Judge Esther Salas overseeing the very sensitive case of Epstein/ Deutche Bank – dead son, injured husband” which had absolutely nothing to d with the Epstein / Deutsche Bank Case (which she had only just been asigned to). Her son and her husband were shot by an anti-feminist nutter, nothing to do with Epstein or Deutsche Bank at all.

          • Avatar

            John

            Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 3:13 pm

            That’s the cover story aimed at people like yourself – and is so common in these cases there is always a cover-killing immediately afterwards.
            U.S. District Judge Esther Salas was already assigned to the Epstein Deutche bank case BEFORE her son was shot dead.

      • Avatar

        Richard

        Thursday, December 17, 2020 at 10:58 am

        As I read in this article “The news must be both truthful and distorted”.
        Someone forgot to relay that message to the American Fake News. You Liberal Sheep have no clue to the amount of fraud in Presidential Election because the so-called news doesn’t report it.

    • Avatar

      Roger C

      Monday, December 14, 2020 at 9:09 pm

      But, John the censoring you refer to is not mandated by govt. threat. It’s done by partisan private companies with a self interest agenda.

    • Avatar

      Singharacha

      Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 1:22 am

      @john
      You’re right.
      Once again it’s interference into internal Thai affairs.

      It really is a bit rich to see the media in countries where there is no real freedom of expression criticize Thailand on this issue.

      In many countries that claim to be “democratic” or that people believe they are “democratic”, there are a lot of media but they all say the same thing. Anyone who has an opinion contrary to the official truth that is broadcast by the media is banned.

    • Avatar

      Singharacha

      Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 1:25 am

      @john
      You’re right.
      In the Western world, the objective of the MSM (Main Stream Media) or the main so-called “social” media (GAFAM) is not freedom of expression, but money and power.
      They censor people who disagree with them.
      In the United States, millions of people have left and are leaving Googliar, FakeBook, Twatter because of this. These fake “social” media practice censorship while enjoying the immunity of platform status.

    • Avatar

      Alan

      Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 6:53 am

      Not press freedom, you are talking about on line BS and fake news, and information gathering for nefarious purposes.

    • Avatar

      Stevo

      Wednesday, December 16, 2020 at 10:28 am

      You are a cult member who drank the kool-aid. Stay out of thailand

  4. Avatar

    Marc

    Monday, December 14, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    Some Tiger YouTube videos have been removed a couple of weeks before. Why? You could see that as the notifications were not been revoked

  5. Avatar

    Fabian

    Monday, December 14, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    Thaiger reminds us that we have to be careful not to say something bad about the king, Thaiger itself is very careful in what it writes about the king. That’s called self-censor.

  6. Avatar

    Ameila Leary

    Monday, December 14, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    Press controls are normally intended to deal with the problem so that the reality does not come out. Thai King imposes constraints on the media so that in the eyes of the world the reality of the crimes committed by him and the interests of Thai citizens will not be taken into account. Thai puppets were ordered to impose limits on media freedom while the demonstrations were taking place and several more events were reported by international media. In order to build news on the King, even many of the media houses were scared.

  7. Avatar

    Ameila Leary

    Monday, December 14, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    lmnex ijau
    Press controls are normally intended to deal with the problem so that the reality does not come out. Thai King imposes constraints on the media so that in the eyes of the world the reality of the crimes committed by him and the interests of Thai citizens will not be taken into account. Thai puppets were ordered to impose limits on media freedom while the demonstrations were taking place and several more events were reported by international media. In order to build news on the King, even many of the media houses were scared.
    MIAFHX UIWEQH

  8. Avatar

    James R

    Monday, December 14, 2020 at 9:07 pm

    The international media probably likes the fact (as they claim) there are media restrictions in some countries like Thailand, after all, news to the journalists is their job, they make money out of so-called bad-news.

    The rest of the population(s) around the world do not care what the media control level is like in Thailand as they are too busy getting on with their day to day life, all they want is a nice pleasant place to visit for holidays.

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Thailand

Opposition to provide evidence against government in upcoming debate

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Opposition to provide evidence against government in upcoming debate | The Thaiger

Thailand’s opposition party members are preparing to provide evidence to back the charges being made against the government in an upcoming censure debate. The government is accused of policy-oriented corruption and of playing a part in structural conflicts. The allowance of illegal immigrants into the country and illegal gambling dens is expected to be discussed as it has been attributed to the 2nd wave of Covid-19 sweeping the nation.

Chief opposition whip Sutin Klungsang said the opposition parties have proof of wrongdoing that has played a part in damaging the country through mismanagement and hardship to the people. Sutin says more than 1 minister will be questioned.

“Several. At least seven.”

He says they will finalise who will be censured this week based on the information they have gathered, and says they will meet again on Sunday to discuss their debate strategy and time allocation.

The opposition camp is planning to introduce a “no-confidence” motion against the government tomorrow, marking the 2nd of its kind to ever be lodged.

Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, leader of the opposition Seri Ruam Thai Party and former police chief says his information will deliver a “serious blow” to the PM after he was criticised for saying “even a hundred prime ministers will not be able to rid Thailand of illegal gambling dens.”

“I made a crusade against illegal gambling dens long before I was the national police chief. What did the PM mean when he said things like that? Did they make the arrests or not? So, sit back and wait for the debate.”

He says he is not sure if Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon would be grilled in the upcoming debate, but named Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat, PM and Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and Deputy Interior Minister Niphon Bunyamanee are among the targets.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Politics

US Ambassador to Thailand quits after Biden inaugurated

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US Ambassador to Thailand quits after Biden inaugurated | The Thaiger

The US Ambassador to Thailand seems to have quit after only serving less than 1 year in office and moments after President Biden’s inauguration. Michael George DeSombre, who was appointed by President Trump in early 2020, made the announcement of his departure on the embassy’s official social media platform yesterday. A day before, he met with PM Prayut to “thank the Royal Thai Government” as is customary with departing ambassadors. DeSombre succeeded career diplomat Glyn T. Davies.

“It has been a privilege serving as the United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand. I am exceedingly proud of all we have done to strengthen the US-Thai relationship. I am signing off now from this account and leaving it in the good hands of our Embassy staff.”

Now, as the US Embassy official website names Chargé d’Affaires Michael Heath as its diplomatic mission leader, it is not known when a new ambassador will be chosen by the Biden administration.

Just last year in October, DeSombre wrote, on the same day that President Trump tested positive for the virus, that he was less than supportive of a full-blown shutdown.

“The evidence over the last six months shows that the costs of a really extreme shutdown are generally worse than the benefits and it is better to keep the economy running.”

According to Wikipedia, DeSombre co-founded Republicans Overseas for Americans abroad in 2013 in which the organisation focuses on tax reform. Upon his appointment as Ambassador, DeSombre stated that his office would primarily encourage the economic partnership between the two countries, with a focus on American investments and Thailand’s infrastructure projects and supply chains.

He has also said that US firms were interested in increasing investments in Thailand, including in areas under the 1966 Amity treaty. Thailand and the US established relations in 1818 and later formalised the ties in 1833.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

PM vows action against ‘not factual’ information on vaccine plan

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PM vows action against ‘not factual’ information on vaccine plan | The Thaiger

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha will order legal action against anyone who “distorts information” about the government’s Covid-19 vaccination plan after the banned opposition politician Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit had raised the topic of “Royal Vaccine: Who Benefits and Who Doesn’t?” on his Facebook Live feed on Monday.

On the Facebook Live, Thanathorn criticised the government’s vaccine procurement and production, commenting that the government is too slow in securing sufficient inoculations.

“Thailand pinned its hopes only on AstraZeneca which allowed local pharmaceutical manufacturer, Siam Bioscience, to produce its vaccine. The government had not held talks with other countries until Jan 3 when it announced it will buy 2 million doses of vaccines from Sinovac which is a very small quantity… enough for only 1.5% of the population.”

Siam Bioscience is a royally-sponsored company that has partnered AstraZeneca to produce the vaccines for Thailand and other countries in the region.

According to Dr Nakorn Premsiri, director of the National Vaccine Institute, Siam Bioscience invited the British-Swedish pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca to visit its plant to see whether it met the criteria required to produce the vaccine at a minimum of 200 million doses per year. The government approved 600 million baht to improve the plant’s facilities to produce the Covid-19 vaccine according to the requirements of AstraZeneca.

Responding to Thanathorn’s comment, the PM says he will order prosecution for anything “that is distorted and not factual” that gets published, whether in media or on social media and that he has to protect the government’s credibility from those who are “irresponsible” with their remarks.

SOURCE:Bangkok Post

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