Authoritarian Democrats

21 05 2009

There were numerous reasons for considering the Thaksin Shinawatra-led administration as authoritarian. PPT recalls that one reason related to measures adopted to control the country’s media.

As PPT has pointed out numerous times, the Democrat Party-led administration under Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has repeatedly cracked down on the media, especially when it has suited its political purposes.

Despite Abhisit’s claims to being a true liberal democrat and to be open and transparent, his government continues to use lese majeste and computer crimes laws to restrict the internet and free speech. The government has repeatedly closed down or blocked so-called red media and senior Democrat figures have regularly accused the foreign media as being in the pay of Thaksin. The government, confident in mainstream media support, has tried to limit the freedom of all non-mainstream media, even claiming that it wants to limit “divisive” SMS messages.

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) is now saying that it is “alarmed by a government announcement on 14 May that it will introduce new regulations for community radio stations and cable and satellite TV stations aimed at controlling programme content.” RWB says that this plan requires broadcasters “to seek permission for each programme being aired.”

RWB (20 May 2009: “Internet censorship to be followed by censorship of radio and TV”) says: “The adoption of these regulations would deal a fatal blow to free expression in Thailand, which is already heavily restricted on the Internet…. The government will have the power to ban programmes that question their policies and legitimacy. We urge the authorities to scrap this plan.”

Democrat and regular and determined advocate for limiting the media Sathit Wongnongtoey, the minister in charge of the prime minister’s office, said “the regulations would enable the authorities to take action against any broadcaster airing content deemed to undermine democracy.” Disturbingly, in claiming that this control would be “enforced even-handedly” Sathit seems only too pleased to argue for widespread government control of the media in the interests of preventing any content considered by the government to be “politically incendiary.”



4 responses

23 05 2009
Thai Media on … Thai media « Media war

[…] blog has a post titled  “Authoritarian Democrats” […]

31 05 2009
New: Media reform to equal media control? « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] that the report of the media reform committee goes to Sathit Wongnongtoey, a Democrat Party minister who has expressed a desire to control the media, PPT is also doubtful […]

1 09 2009
Blaming the red shirts for predicted turmoil « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Party’s most strident proponents of the monarchy, of political control of the media and for limiting freedom of speech, said the “state of emergency would allow the prime minister to have absolute […]

7 09 2009
Updated: Opposing press freedom or normalizing authoritarianism? « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] The story asserts that the “government will not interfere in the MCOT’s investigation into Chom Phetoradab’s interview with fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra on FM 100.5, PM’s Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey said on Monday.” Sounds good, but here we are in the territory occupied by Sathit, who is on record as opposing press freedom. For just one of PPT’s examples, go here. […]

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