Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More on situation in thailand

Thailand's media and foreign news outlets have become key battlegrounds in the country's divisive political conflict.The PAD has repeatedly criticised the foreign media from its stage at Government House — from where proceedings are beamed live to around 10 million viewers of PAD co-leader Sondhi Limthongkul's cable channel ASTV.

The PAD says the foreign media fails to understand Thailand, insists on projecting “Western-style democracy” as the ideal, and has been seduced by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who addressed his “friends in the international media” and pointedly remarked that they were more balanced than the Thai media.

Writing on the New Mandala blog, academic Michael Connors of Australia's La Trobe University said that most overseas commentary had “whitewashed so-called democratic pro-Thaksin forces”. But the foreign media has sent reporters to the north and northeast, where there is more support for Thaksin, while the Bangkok-based Thai media remains almost exclusively focused on the capital, where the PAD has most of its support.

That might have something to do with the fact that the foreign media is not the only target of the PAD.

The daily Kom Chad Luk, which is controlled by the Matichon group, was the only local newspaper — apart from the little-read pro-government Prachatouch — to report Crown Princess Sirindhorn's remark in the United States three weeks ago to the effect that the PAD was fighting not to protect the monarchy as claimed, but for “themselves”.

The PAD responded with a call to boycott the Matichon group, and there was a notable silence from the rest of the Thai print media over this attack on one of their own.

The pro-PAD coverage of events by Thailand's mainstream print media led respected media analyst Supinya Klangnarong to call the current atmosphere one of “fear and uncertainty”.

Also at the FCCT discussion, Supinya noted that it was the foreign media which many Thais had come to rely on for balanced news, while at home “it is very difficult to criticise the PAD, or even the government”. “Under Thaksin, there was fear and self-censorship. Now there is institutionalised censorship on sensitive issues.”

— The Straits Times --


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