Again PPT finds it necessary to point to double standards in the Bangkok Post, this time contained in an editorial. Editorials are usually about opinions and the Post sometimes displays curious differences in these political missives. In this case, the Post wants to write about coups. The problem immediately faced is a double standard in the newspaper.
The editorial begins with what it calls the “so-called deliberative dialogue’ scheduled to be staged in Nakhon Ratchasima this coming Sunday by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung…”. It declares that it “is anything but a deliberative dialogue in its true meaning.” This is apparently the Post’s determination because the deputy premier is talking with government officials. The editorial goes on to say that “the gist of the talk, according to Mr Chalerm, is all about the sinister threat of a coup d’etat, in particular the Sept 19 putsch in 2006 which resulted in the overthrow of the Thaksin government.”
A double standard is seen in that it is the Bangkok Post that has been reporting Pitak Siam and its boss, retired Army General Boonlert Kaewprasit, who has repeatedly demanded and pleaded for a military coup. As the Post has had several stories on Boonlert and has published an interview with him, the newspaper has not pointed out that Boonlert’s call is unlawful. Indeed, the Post might be seen to promoting this old coupster and playing up his connections to the Privy Council.
So it is that the Post chooses to criticize a deputy premier for talking with assembled government officials before it sees fit to comment on Boonlert’s rabid calls for military coups. At least the Post editorial notes that “Mr Chalerm is undoubtedly right about the evils of a coup and why we Thais must reject coups outright.” It is a pity the Post didn’t make this point earlier when reporting Boonlert.
The Post derides Chalerm further for a semi-secret agenda, suggesting that he is really trying to “pave the way for the revival of the controversial reconciliation bill shelved since July…” and for (perhaps) using the discussion with officials to “incite hatred against any political or non-political groupings…”. Note that the Post has jumped on a presumed Thaksin Shinawatra agenda and lost the coup plot.
Then the editorial turns to the “anti-government group known as the Pitak Siam” and Boonlert’s “a pro-coup stance…”. Poor old Boonlert is said to be “so upset … with this government” that he must call for a coup. The Post doesn’t condemn Boonlert for demanding an unconstitutional method to oust an elected government. It meekly whispers: “… the rally itself is unnecessary if it is meant to show dissent against the government over its alleged incompetence in tackling corruption and alleged inaction against criticism of the monarchy as there are other more suitable channels through which the group can voice its views.”
Remarkably the Post then appears to chide the government for being suspicious of “Gen Boonlert’s open advocacy of a coup.” And after its own unsubstantiated claims about Chalerm’s meeting, criticizes the “the ruling Pheu Thai Party’s unsubstantiated accusation of a five-step coup plot by certain unidentified elements to overthrow the government.” This despite Boonlert clearly advocating a coup and while noting his connections in other reports.
The Bangkok Post repeatedly attacks Chalerm for his narrowness in arranging a meeting of officials but can’t bring itself to damn a man who repeatedly demands unconstitutional actions against an elected government. Our claim of double standards is somewhat unreal in the case of the Bangkok Post, for it seems to be working with just one standard: unadulterated bias against the elected government to the point of providing support to coup agitators.