PM Srettha’s TV premier: Another propaganda show?

Photo courtesy of The Nation

Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is set to make his TV debut as the host of Talk with Srettha tomorrow, June 22, nearly 10 months after assuming office.

This tradition of Thai leaders hosting TV shows to address the nation, dubbed “the prime minister meets the people,” has a storied history. But will Srettha’s show bring something new to the table or just rehash the old formula?

Srettha is not the first to use TV as a direct line to the public. Over the past two decades, almost all of his predecessors have adopted similar weekly programs. Only Somchai Wongsawat, whose short tenure in late 2008 was marred by anti-government protests, missed out on this media tradition.

Critics often dismiss these shows as blatant government propaganda. The trend began with Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s 23rd prime minister, who started PM Thaksin Talks with the People in April 2001. In his debut, Thaksin aimed to garner public support by explaining government initiatives to tackle issues like poverty, economic recession, and illicit drugs.

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Following Thaksin’s footsteps, General Surayud Chulalont launched Direct Line to Government House in 2007, followed by Samak Sundaravej’s Samak-Style Conversation in 2008. Abhisit Vejjajiva’s 2009 show, Confidence in Thailand with PM Abhisit, stood out by featuring guest appearances from celebrities and academics.

Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s sister, continued the tradition with Yingluck’s Government Meets the People in 2011 featuring her Cabinet members and media personalities. General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s Returning Happiness to the People began in 2014, later rebranded to focus on sustainable development projects.

Talk with Srettha promises to offer monthly recaps of his activities and government progress, both domestic and international. The inaugural episode, pre-recorded and hosted by former government spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi, will air on NBT. Future episodes will feature well-known media personalities like Arisara Kamthorncharoen and Puwanart Kunpalin, reported Thai PBS World.

In related news, the Constitutional Court has thrown a curveball in the case against the 62 year old Thai PM, demanding additional evidence within 15 days. This comes after allegations surfaced regarding his controversial Cabinet appointment, stirring up a storm of legal challenges and political intrigue.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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