Further updated: Chiranuch on her arrest

1 10 2010

Pravit Rojanaphruk at The Nation has a short interview with bailed Prachatai editor Chiranuch Premchaiporn. PPT doesn’t comment in detail but we point to an interesting contrast in political behavior and attitudes.

When asked about the lese majeste law, Chiranuch says this: “Many parties, including the government, admit that it is problematic but they [the government] have failed to prevent the abuse [of the law]. Anyone who wants to press charges can just do it.” We knew that, of course, but remember that she is facing up to 50 years in jail on “problematic” lese majeste and computer crimes charges!

Chiranuch is then asked about censorship and freedom of expression in Thailand. Her response is: “I think there’s a problem with it. There’s a legal obstacle, a climate that hinders it and the new [online] media is a new culture that is being forced to become silent. The society is not very pleased about an open-exchange environment. They feel some control is needed.” Yes, indeed, but this is again a remarkably moderate response to the long period of attacks Prachatai and Chiranuch have endured.

And what does she say about “blame” and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva? She states: “I try not to be angry…. If I’m upset at anything, it’s the murky corners in Thai society where there is a lack of tolerance toward differing views and often resorts to any convenient means to shut people up. [PM] Abhisit [Vejjajiva] is perhaps in an uneasy situation, which is not particularly fun.”

Again, unmistakeably moderate, stoic and good-natured. How did Abhisit (and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya) react when asked about censorship and freedom of expression? Both stated unequivocally that Thailand has freedom of expression and that the only media that are censored and close are those that incite violence and hatred. Leaving aside the distortion of the truth, neither accusation could be made of Prachatai by any sane and reasonable person.

More cynical was Kasit, who was specifically asked about Chiranuch, and he went to a ramble about violence and hatred.

Both men could learn a lot about political sophistication and graciousness from Chiranuch. (Of course, PPT expects no such thing from the politically myopic or their puppeteers.)

Update 1: Read more here.

Update 2: PPT is corrected on our note above that Chiranuch risks 50 years in jail on the various charges brought against her. In fact, as Reporters Without Borders note under the heading “Absurd prosecutions”: “If prosecuted on all the charges currently registered in connection with the complaint, she could be facing up to 32 years in prison. At the same time, she is facing a possible 50-year sentence in a connection with an earlier, very similar, case.” 82 years jail! Abhisit and Kasit should be ashamed!


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