Updated: Targeting Thaksin III

7 11 2012

There was a time when PPT considered the elite’s Bangkok Post to be somewhat better than The Nation. After all, the unprofessional “journalism” at The Nation even spawned a spoof known as Not The Nation. As a lapdog for the conservative elite the paper behaved like a lap dancer for the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. Even today, The Nation sinks to new lows, seeming more like a family blog than a newspaper, publishing a “story” on the U.S. election by a “licensed acupuncturist” that gets published because the scribbler is boss Suthichai Yoon’s daughter.

As bad as that rag is, in recent days, the Bangkok Post has spiraled down into something that seems only fit for composting. We have mentioned some of these dives in recent posts (here and here). Essentially, these articles were in anti-Thaksin Shinawatra and anti-red shirt campaign mode with barely a fact in sight.

Misleading and concocted “stories” are suddenly grist for the Post’s campaigns. A few days ago we pointed to such a headline. However, the Post’s latest story on the alleged Thaksin assassination plot takes the cake for concoction. Here’s the line taken:

The alleged assassination plot against ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is likely to have been manufactured to give the ex-premier a credible excuse not to visit Tachilek, intelligence analysts said yesterday…. According to a military intelligence source, Thaksin had no intention of visiting Tachilek, a border town opposite Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district.

Readers may recall that the assassination plots against Thaksin when he was premier were also dismissed by his opponents as “manufactured.” Nothing much has changed.

PPT has no idea whether this assassination plot was real. But what evidence is there for this newspaper’s claim that this supposed plot was faked?

First, the “source” is,as usual, an anonymous military source. That is the same military that threw Thaksin out and were allegedly involved in earlier assassination plots. So how much credibility is there in this? Zero.

Second, the motivation for “faking” a plot is that Thaksin is “a fugitive with an arrest warrant out on him, [and] his presence [in Burma] would increase pressure on the Yingluck administration.” It was only in April that an “estimated 50,000 of Mr Thaksin’s fans alighted in Siem Reap, in the north of Cambodia, during the weekend’s Thai New Year holiday to catch a glimpse of the one-time premier.” What has changed since then? In opinion polls, the current government is doing better now than back then. So how much credibility is there in this? Zero.

Third, the claim is that by “fabricating the death threat, Thaksin has a plausible excuse to ‘cancel’ his plan without upsetting thousands of red-shirt supporters who were preparing to meet him, the source said.” This fluff depends on the first and second items above being true and guess work. How much credibility is there in this? Zero.

The mystery “military source” adds that “the assassination story can also be used to incriminate the ammart, or elite, who oppose Thaksin.” Well, yes, it would, if that was the claim from the Thaksin camp. So far though this hasn’t been claimed and “drug barons” are blamed. Still no credibility.

Finally, in a related story, the yellow-hued senator Somchai Sawaengkarn proved less than sharp when his doubts about the plot are expressed as: “If someone [actually] wanted to kill Thaksin, the plot would not have been leaked…”. Yes, no plot is ever “leaked” and is a security operation, if there was one, a “leak”? We’re thinking Homer Simpson.

Update: It is difficult to see how The Nation could get any worse, but it has. In “commenting” on the Forbes interview with Thaksin, op-ed “writer” Tulsathit Taptim strikes a new low. He gets frothy about Thaksin’s criticism of his fish wrap and the Bangkok Post and says there are other “questions” that he proposes “in response to his criticism of The Nation and the Bangkok Post and some other things he said in the last interview. It’s entirely up to Forbes whether to ask him these questions which, no need to be said, can be used by other international media free of charge…”. We aren’t sure what to make of the latter comments, but let’s look at the “questions.” Just two examples that are about substance rather than the list of childish retorts.

First, question 2: “Do you have proof that The Nation or the Bangkok Post tricked you and your spouse into buying the Ratchadapisek land while you were in office?” In Tulsathit’s world, somehow this must seem relevant to the notion of bias his rag. In fact, if a conviction was a reason for bias, we’d expect to see the newspaper exhibiting bias against a range of politicians and business people. Yet, this isn’t the case as the paper’s political bias is endlessly directed against red shirts and Thaksin.

Second, the last mangled question: “25. Last but not least, we are a bit confused. Thailand’s English media are against you but you said you are free to go anywhere and everyone treats you well. On the other hand, you can’t return to your country, where the market for The Nation and Bangkok Post is relatively small. Which exactly is your “unlucky” situation – you being able to go wherever people read “biased” reports about you, or you being unable to return to Thailand where fewer than 1 per cent of the population reads the English press?” So, Tulsathit thinks his paper is irrelevant?

Tulsathit’s “column” suggests to us that having a “licensed acupuncturist” write political reports for The Nation might actually improve it.




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