Ji on the TCIJ

30 05 2011

Giles Ji Ungpakorn has posted this account of the newly highlighted Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism or ศูนย์ข้อมูลและข่าวสืบสวนเพื่อสิทธิพลเมือง. In fact, PPT received this not long after a ThaiPBS television show highlighted the work of various poll watching groups. It heavily featured Charas Suwanmala, the former Dean of the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University.

As Ji notes below, Charas is not exactly an unbiased political figure, having supported the 2006 coup and various yellow-shirted movements, including those that were associated with attacks on red shirts rallying in Bangkok last April and May. One of our earlier posts mentioning Charas is here.

In the ThaiPBS show, Charas presented a position that was pretty close to the People’s Alliance for Democracy, questioning the value of elections and being totally dismissive of politicians. The underlying message is that he does not believe that “the people” can make appropriate decisions because the politicians of all parties are hopeless. In essence, Charas attempts to undermine a basic right to elect a government. In essence he continues to support those in the PAD, military and so on who oppose elections for Thailand.

Ji’s post follows:

Exposing the new “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism”

Today Suchada Jakpisut announced a new “investigative” website named the “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism” which claims to expose wrong-doing in Thai society.

But before you get excited, just consider a few hidden facts about this site.

1.  “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism” is fully funded by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, a Thai Government organisation which gives money to NGOs. Thai Health Promotion Foundation is funded by ‘sin taxes’ collected by the Government from producers and importers of alcohol and tobacco.

2. Try searching for key issues in Thailand’s political crisis in the “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism” website. You will find NOTHING on lèse majesté, state murders of unarmed demonstrators last year, the secret military budget, corruption in the Royal projects or corruption in the Democrat Party. But you will find an article “exposing” Yinglak Shinawat, leader of the Peua Thai Party… and there is about to be an election….

3. At the bottom of the website for “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism” you will find links to various organisations which have been tainted with supporting the Military-backed Government: for example, the Thai journalists association, SEAPA, the Election Commission and the National Human Rights Commission.

4. More interesting links closely connected to the “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism” are organisations set up or run by Prof. Dr. Charas Suwanmala, former Dean at Facuty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University. He rose to fame when he organised an anti-red shirt rally in the centre of Bangkok. He has been involved with “Thailand Democracy Watch”. This is based at Chulalongkorn University, the university which gave my book “A Coup for the Rich” to the Secret police, resulting in my prosecution for lèse majesté. “Thailand Democracy Watch” never once criticised the 2006 coup or any destruction of Democracy since.

5. Another site linked to the “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism” is “Thailand Political Database” set up by the same Prof. Dr. Charas Suwanmala along with an organisation calling itself “Siam Intelligence Unit”. The steering committee of the “Thailand Political Database” has such illustrious characters as Wira Somkwamkit (PAD extremist who crossed over into Cambodia to start a war), Dr Monkol Na Songkla ( ex- military-appointed Minister in the junta’s government of 2006) and Yellow Shirt media personality Jermsak Pintong.

So the “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism” is just another “GNGO” (Government-backed Non-Government Organisation), or in other words a Government media site pretending to be an NGO.


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