Voice TV back

16 02 2019

In an unexpected decision, Prachatai reports that “the Administrative Court ruled to delay the NBTC’s [National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission] suspension order. Voice TV can continue broadcasting during election campaigns until the trial is concluded.”

It made the interim decision based on a Voice TV injunction filed “on the ground that NBTC’s suspension order is unreasonable and unlawful, and that there will be negative repercussions if the Court does not grant them injunction, both for the public and for Voice TV itself.”

The Administrative Court appears to find the “NBTC suspension order is most likely unlawful…”.

That’s good news for media freedom, even if the case is not finished.





Commentary on the junta’s rigged election I

19 10 2018

There have been several recent articles on the junta’s rigged election. We will look at some of these in this and further posts.

PPT kind of liked a piece at Deutsche Welle that begins with a statement of fact that has been neglected by other media: “Thailand’s military government says it wants to hold elections early next year, after the generals cemented their control over the state and its institutions.”

Academic Wolfram Schaffar says there’s “growing discontent even among sections that have been traditionally close to the military” over its repeated failure to keep its promises on elections and to stick in power.

We are not convinced that the 2014 military coup was “met with widespread approval,” or that the DW characterization of the period prior to the coup is accurate.

It is on stronger ground when quoting Schaffar as saying that the “military took over not to repair democracy, but to stay in power indefinitely…”, or at least to ensure that no real electoral democracy emerged.

It notes the rigging of the rules via an anti-democratic constitution, approved in a rigged referendum where “all sorts of restrictions were imposed, including barring any public discussion over the constitution as well as curtailing the freedom of expression, assembly and the press.”

The resulting rules mean “a weakening of the Thai parliament and strengthened the hand of the prime minister.” Schaffar says the “military is now closely intertwined with the country’s political bodies and institutions…”.

He correctly observes that the “next elections will not be free and fair.”

DW also notes that the “military stands above everything and will likely retain its dominant position…”. It also notes the unfairness of the current regime that campaigns for elections while banning its opponents from organizing and campaigning.

Free election? No. Fair election? No.





Neutering media

21 08 2017

The military dictatorship has generally been able to neuter the media. It got rid of most of the red shirt media soon after the 2014 military coup. It has then managed and manipulated the media. Initially, this did not require much effort as the mainstream media cheered the coup.

As the regime has gone on and on, some elements of the media have become just a little more critical of the junta’s nepotism, corruption, political repression and so on. The Dictator has shouted orders at journalists on those many occasions where he has felt the media should be doing more for his regime.

Most recently, as widely reported, the regime has been doing a little more to direct the media:

The government has ordered all television channels to promote the work of its ministers in an effort the head of its public relations division said was meant to take the focus off the prime minister.

Lt. Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd, the government spokesman who heads its Public Relations Department, said Thursday that he ordered each channel assigned to different ministers because he did not want the coverage to focus only on the prime minister.

“I didn’t force them. I let them choose freely but each channel must do differently,” he said after word got out and the effort was slammed as state-mandated propaganda. “Some channels even asked me to choose for them, but I didn’t because I know each channel has a different interest.”

It should be no surprise that most media enthusiastically signed up.

Dissent in the media is difficult under a military regime. One example of rare but consistent dissent by a journalist has seen Pravit Rojanaphruk who is now being punished by the military junta. He says:

It never occurred to me that what I write could be seditious.

Under military rule, criticizing the junta on social media can be construed as an act of sedition, however.

I learned this the hard way when police rang me up at the end of last month, informing me that I had been charged with sedition for a number of my Facebook postings.

That this is yet another fit-up. Each of Pravit’s posts was critical of the military junta. Yes, criticizing the junta constitutes sedition in totalitarian Thailand.

Pravit comments on the junta’s charges:

… no one really knows what constitutes sedition under military rule makes this a chilling effect and ensures greater self-censorship of anything critical of the junta in social media, however. The hazier the boundaries of what constitutes sedition, the more effective they become in instilling fear.

It may also be baffling that people who criticize the military junta, which usurped and continues to usurp power from the people, are the ones being charged with sedition. Control is more effective when fear is induced by logic-defying situations because one suspends disbelief of the illogical and absurd in Juntaland Thailand any longer. When right is wrong, wrong is right and might is right, rationality no longer gives guidance. We live not under the rule of law but under rule by arbitrary law of the junta. And logic is not necessary. Just obey. In fact, to obey without logically asking why or questioning the legitimacy, or lack thereof, of the military regime, makes control effective. Just obey. Don’t ask what’s wrong with the order imposed upon us.

On the future and on dissent, he declares:

It’s a privilege and an honor to defend freedom of expression on social media during the past three years. It is also an honor to be singled out among the select few Thais who have stood up and effectively disturbed the make-believe world of Juntaland Thailand.

We cannot defend freedom of expression if we are not willing to pay the price. The price is worth paying when one takes the long-term benefits of society to heart.





Press freedom declines further

20 04 2016

We all know that the junta has tried to manage the media more than most recent regimes in Thailand. Press freedom has been wound back since the 2014 military coup, and according to Reporters Without Borders and its World Press Freedom Index, the situation worsened even further in 2015.

RWB rank 2015





Media freedom? Don’t even think about it!

1 04 2016

Many readers will already know that Khaosod journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk has been prevented from attending UNESCO’s 2016 World Press Freedom Day conference in Finland.

In fact, as reported by the International Press Institute, “Thailand’s ruling military junta has banned a prominent journalist from leaving the country” to attend the conference.

Because Pravit has been called in for “re-education” and “attitude adjustment” by the military thugs, he has lost his freedom to travel, and must request the military junta’s permission to travel. He submitted a request and the junta rejected it.censorship-1

According to one report, cited by IPI, a junta mouthpiece said Pravit “keeps violating the orders of the NCPO in many ways, so his travel is not approved.” What they mean is that he continues to try to publish stories that are accurate of Thailand’s current sorry state. As the cause of this state, the military dictatorship becomes flustered, angry and vindictive over his reporting.

Finland’s ambassador to Thailand, Kristi Westphalen, stated that she “regretted the Thai government’s decision…”. By “government” she means the military dictatorship. IPI Director of Press Freedom Programmes Scott Griffen said the ban was “highly symbolic of the Thai military regime’s increasing disregard for free expression.” We are not sure the “disregard” is increasing. The junta hates any media outlet that doesn’t follow its every order and that is unable divine what might next have The Dictator in a tizzy.

Thailand is a military dictatorship and a military state. No one should expect it junta to be anything other than intolerant, repressive, downright nasty and worse.





Revised: Warning the conservative elite I

1 03 2016

In an editorial at The Korean Herald, Thailand’s conservative elite gets a warning on media freedom. The editorial begins:

Thai policy makers, dictators, military leaders or what have you, have never learned how to handle criticism from the international press and the recently issued regulation for foreign media reflects that long-standing mindset.

The junta’s demand is that:

foreign media representatives must demonstrate their attitude towards the monarchy and political development in the country – eats into one’s personal space…. It is like the government is trying to delve into the heart and soul of a person and make it a requirement before they be granted visa and permit to work in the kingdom.

The military dictatorship is seeking to “prevent negative reporting about Thailand.” The editorial observes that “to try to engineer this outcome is somewhat absurd…”.

It continues:

A free and independent media environment generates a positive atmosphere for the country.

But sadly, Thai policy makers, especially the current junta, do not have the sophistication to deal with criticism. So the bottom line of this absurd regulation is that if you’re not going to be nice to me, I’m not going to let you live here.

Sadly, when the editorial states, “We really hope that is a temporary thing and that soon the authorities will come to their senses, and realize that what they are doing will cause more harm than good,” we think they misunderstand the junta and its backers. When it comes to the monarchy and maintaining elite rule, there’s no sense, just nonsense.





Media freedom?

10 10 2013

PPT was quite surprised when reading a story at The Nation, purported to be one in a series commemorating the 14 October 1973 uprising, which stated:

AFTER THE October 14, 1973 student uprising, journalists successfully campaigned for the abrogation of an anti-press-freedom law.

Forty years have passed since then and all the draconian laws seen as inhibiting press freedoms have been abolished – but is the press really enjoying full freedom?

The story goes on to say a little about the fight to end state control of the media and the rise of business control. Little is said about the continuing state and military ownership, apart from a comment about state control through advertising budgets.

But where is comment about the lese majeste and computer crimes laws?112.jpg

More than any other law, Article 112 is a deadweight on the media, forcing remarkable self-censorship. No journalist wants to go to jail for 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years, so they and their bosses self-censor and censor.

The lese majeste law is also a deadweight on discussion more broadly, whether it is social media, academic debate or private discussions.

Surely any discussion of “draconian laws” must mention the political use of lese majeste and computer crimes or is even discussion of media freedom to be self-censored?