A one sided report against the building of the Meh Wong Dam, by a journalist, Chake, who is close to Abhisit, have raised a question in Thailand, about freedom of expression, where the Yingluck’s government is a victim.
Chake has a regular program on TV Channel 9 where that anti Meh Wong Dam program was going to be shown. But Channel 9 wants that Chake program to be balance, and to show both sides of the issue, where this issue has become highly controversial, with even Thai Rath,Thailand’s most powerful newspaper of mostly anti Thaksin, calling the the situation, “Dictatorship.” Chake have caused a controversial with his journalism before, reporting that Thai bagged rice, sold to the public was poisonous, and those who eat it, may get sick and die. After that report, Shake reversed course, saying his report was wrong, and went to promote Thai rice.
However, the entire episode, like many other before, does raise some basic question, about the state of journalism in Thailand, namely about responsible journalism and freedom of expression. Earlier, another journalist, with political connection, spread a rumor, about an impending coup and told Thais to stock up on food and water. He was stopped by the police, for inciting un-rest and potential of causing a panic among the Thais. While with the issue of lese majeste, and its total Thai societal impacted, restriction on freedom of expression, tend to make those like Thai Rath talking about “Dictatorship” sounds ignorant, the conflict at a much more ground level, such as the Chake situation, does offer the opportunity to examine the state of journalism in Thailand.
For a neutral person, what is the correct way of thinking, between responsible journalism and freedom of expression? Years back, when Thaksin was the prime minister, the Nation Group went after Thaksin corruption. One such case, the Nation won the prestigious Thai investigative report of the year award. Years later, the report proved wrong by the courts, and the Nation Group made a small correction. The problem, the great damage to Thaksin was already done.
Often, journalist do get swept away by current events, and loose sight of objectivity and neutrality, and here in Thailand, Thai press, like the Bangkok Post and Nation, are mostly about anti democracy propaganda, little to do with journalism. And yet there is the question of freedom of expression, as apply not only to journalist, but to society at large. Does Shake have the right to run his propaganda on Meh Wing Dam and does that journalist spreading his coup rumor has the right to freedom to cause public un-rest?
Here at Thai Intel, we support freedom of expression, but we are going to expose the likes of Bangkok Post, to what it is, and leave it at that, for the people to decide.