Kavi Chongkittavorn on media freedom in Thailand

9 03 2009

Kavi Chongkittavorn at the Nation offers a broad look at the state of media freedom in Thailand (9 March 2009, “Our country’s media freedom: myth and reality”). Kavi highlights the deeply troubling timing of PM Abhisit’s Friday speech to editors and publishers about the importance of media freedom, and the raid of Prachatai and arrest of Chiranuch Premchaiporn by the Crime Suppression Division a few hours later. Kavi praises Abhisit’s commitment to media freedom, citing his previous role as government spokesperson during an era with a relatively less restricted media.

Kavi comments “Somehow, concerned officials in the Ministry of Information Technology and Communication, Ministry of Culture, special branch police and other agencies still treat Abhisit’s convictions with a grain of salt. It was as if they were pursuing different policy guidelines and priorities which can undermine the prime minister’s trustworthiness and creditability.”

PPT is less ready to praise Abhisit’s commitment to press freedom, and more concerned with querying whether or not Abhisit’s priorities are really diametrically opposed to those of the Crime Suppression Division.

Kavi closes his article by noting “It is inevitable that the media freedom reports and indexes on Thailand this year by well-established New York-based Freedom House, or Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, ahead of May 3 World Press Freedom Day would be extremely negative. This would certainly remain a huge scar on Abhisit’s human rights record and ethos unless he has decided to do something drastic to thwart this unhealthy trend.”

In PPT’s view, unless this unhealthy — and dangerous — crackdown on media stops, it will be the entirety of Thai politics and society which is  scarred, not only Abhisit’s record.