The Army, the government and the media

14 11 2011

Prachatai comments on the widespread media dissemination of an Army assessment “quoted as saying that high-level military officers had discussed the leadership of the Prime Minister and agreed that she was indecisive in handling the flood problems, and as a result, brought the country into crisis.”

The Army’s Public Relations Centre has gone into action to deny that the “army was critical of the government’s performance…”. It was responding to an article published by the Nation Group’s Krungthep Thurakij and Kom Chad Luek newspapers on 7 November that quoted a “high-level source at the army.”

The PR Centre denounced the source as providing just a “personal” opinion of one senior officer, despite the fact that listed its listed “12 points of failure of the Yingluck Shinawatra government. PPT believes this is the same source used in a Bangkok Post story we mentioned a few days ago.

The army’s letter claims the army had never discussed the issue of the government’s performance. Krungthep Thurakij and Kom Chad Luek have removed the reports from their websites. PPT finds this retraction unconvincing.

At the same time, the Prachatai story refers to both Kom Chad Luek and Krungthep Thurakij reporting “that members of the group of 111 banned former Thai Rak Thai Party politicians were dissatisfied with the poor performance of the government regarding the handling of the flood situation, and wanted to replace the Prime Minister with either Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung or Minister of Justice Pol Gen Pracha Phromnok, who is currently Head of the Flood Relief Operations Command.”

While this story has been endlessly repeated in almost all newspapers and on television, both Phumtham Wechayachai and Chaturon Chaisaeng of the “disbanded Thai Rak Thai Party denied the reports through Twitter messages.”

Phumtham said that the news reports were unfounded. Chaturon said that the reporting was scurrilous. Without naming any media outlet, he accused a “certain media group” of regularly “fabricating stories, as it was when the Thai Rak Thai government was overthrown.… The media ferociously attacking the government are the same as those which helped bring down the Thai Rak Thai government, working with the same old networks including the Democrat Party…”. PPT and many other sources have long pointed to papers like The Nation as being adept at political concoctions, most notably at their opinion page.

Chaturon adds: “The media definitely have the right to attack the government, but they should be ethical in presenting news, not fabricating stories.” He observes that “the opposition makes everything an issue that has to lead to a change of government or Prime Minister [and that] seems too simple and selfish.”

Both the army and former Thai Rak Thai Party politicians appear to be saying that certain media are concocting stories. PPT tends to think there is some truth in both stories. The Army story has considerable detail, suggesting at least some documentary basis to the story. On effectiveness in leadership in Puea Thai, there have long been stories about Chalerm being the man for the top job. Those stories probably originate in Thonburi backrooms.


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