Odious journalism

20 09 2013

Yesterday PPT posted on Pornpimol Kanchanalak’s obnoxious attack on lese majeste victim Aum Neko at The Nation. That was a decidedly low blow and, we think, cowardly. We understand that op-ed pieces are anything but serious journalism, and that some op-ed authors are hired simply for their capacity for sensation and drivel.

However, it seems that the Bangkok Post has decided to have its journalism descend into a kind of yellow-shirted crassness that would be better suited to some kind of base sensationalism with “news” being defined by rumor and political nonsense.Bangkok Post

Could it get any worse than a story about pop star Baitoey R Siam having performed at parties for Thaksin Shinawatra. We realize that this would make here a target for all kinds of yellow-shirted slander, but not only does the Bangkok Post publish it, but its editors apparently see fit to add the following gutter reference:

Kampanart Tansithabudhkun, renowned psychiatrist and former host of a sex education TV programme, posted a Facebook message saying that he was told by a celebrity friend that a female singer – not Baitoey – was paid one million baht to meet the “man who everybody knows” and that her job was not to sing for him.

Dr Kampanart claimed that the singer travelled to the Middle East to meet the man, but said she did not simply go to sing and dine with him, rather that her job was to “put something in her mouth”.

“After listening to the news today, I can’t help but wonder if they fall into the same category,” he said.

Wow. Is that as low as the Bangkok Post will go or is there more gossipy trash that it will convert to “news.” Will the Post’s reporters now be scouring every yellow-shirted Facebook and Twitter page for such tabloid style “news” suitable only for fish wrap?

Obnoxious and cowardly on lese majeste

19 09 2013

PPT seldom pays much attention to Pornpimol (Pauline) Kanchanalak, who writes op-eds for The Nation. Back in 2009 we commented on four of her columns, without much enthusiasm, especially given her capacity for unsolicited advice when she has a few political skeletons in her cupboard.

However, Pauline‘s latest op-ed is so obnoxious as to deserve a little criticism from us.

Her column is headlined, “Thailand’s ‘SMART LADY’ has emerged,” and she says it is Aum Neko. Pauline appears to praise Aum for emphasizing that students should “love and cherish democracy” and for praising freedom.

That’s where Pauline seems to draw the line. Aum turns out to be one who:

dares to think, and dares to act, no-holds-barred. To her, nothing and no one is sacred; they all can be trashed. That, in her view, is democracy.”

For Pauline, such a perspective is a travesty for “upon closer examination, the Aum Neko phenomenon epitomises the sickness that plagues our society.” What sickness is that?

First, while she doesn’t hesitate to tear apart any institution, or anything whatsoever, she guards everything about herself religiously….

More important, and most dangerous, is her flawed and blind belief that freedom is boundless and total….

Such views, says a panicky Pauline, threaten “anarchy.” Aum’s “warped ideas” are a “product of a failed society like ours.”  She is accused of “dimwit narrowness” in “her senseless mantra of absolute freedom…”.

PPT doesn’t know much about Aum yet we would have thought that a young student with an idealistic view of freedom and democracy would be encouraged rather than chastised as a dimwit.

Clearly this outburst is no accident. It follows immediately on lese majeste accusations against Aum. Clearly Pauline’s attack is a callous and obnoxious endorsement of the cowardly political use of this feudal law.

Royalist argues the monarchy is good, not political

12 11 2009

PPT knows that most astute readers do not take  Pornpimol Kanchanalak’s columns in the Nation seriously, not least for her previous record (Google her on this). Her columns usually follow a formula of royalism, homespun advice and a couple of quotes from historical sources, often emanating from the U.S. However, we do want to highlight her most recent contribution (12 November 2009: “A house divided against itself”) where, like the premier and the king, she calls for the unity of Thais.

She says that it is “obvious that our country is at a crossroads, and not all the available options are winning ones. Some Western analysts describe Thailand as being a ‘political tinderbox’.” She believes that some Thais – are “putting a wager on our political collapse” – must be the “traitors”like Thaksin Shinawatra, whom she interprets as follows: “it was clear from what Thaksin said and did not say that the endgame is near, and it will pave the way to a new era. Just exactly what this entails was left unspoken but clearly understood. Unavoidably, this era may only come about after a major payback.”

She then adds: “Our former prime minister, in the same interview, put the responsibility for unity and reconciliation squarely on the shoulders of His Majesty the King. This is an irresponsible, unfair and myopic statement. To put the record straight, His Majesty, over the years, has been trying to get it into our DNA that the nation’s unity is the most important thing for our future survival and prosperity. But we never heed his words. Contrary to what was implied repeatedly by certain factions, His Majesty would never be bothered by a prime minister whose political party won 19 million ballots and 377 seats in Parliament. His Majesty has walked every inch of this land and touched the lives of his people in so many ways, big and small. He entertains no hidden agenda, only love and compassion for the people. He does not have to give them cash in return for love and respect; he just gives them his best. There is nothing to compare between the 19 million votes for the Thai Rak Thai Party – which were in no way negative votes against the monarchy – and the much larger number of people who hold His Majesty in the highest regard. He has never been a jealous party, as alluded by some self-serving individuals. He did not cause the vicious conflict in which the country is embroiled. It is not fair to demand that he clean up the mess we ourselves have created.”

Readers might think that the monarchy had some role in all of this. What about all those interfering privy councilors? But, no. “It started with a group of people who were disturbed at the widespread corruption and abuse of power by politicians in power and the hubris they demonstrated. This turned into a political showdown, resulting in a coup that was poorly planned and executed by the military, which was far from unified.”

He’s innocent of everything apart from goodness, says Pornpimol, “So, everyone, please stop dragging His Majesty into this dirty fray. It is a clever ploy, but it is unfair and unjustified.”

It seems late for such pleas, but as the war against Thaksin and other dissidents expand, stating and restating the royalist mythology is important for bringing the rightist forces together. Unity? Only if you are with the right-wing royalists and nationalists and their mythical stories of the good and great.

Royalists claim democracy is “undermined”

17 09 2009

Also available as  พวกคลั่งเจ้าตีโพยตีพายว่าประชาธิปไตย “ถูกทำลาย”

As the anniversary of the 19 September 2006 coup approaches and the red shirts claim to be determined to rally, conservative commentators like the thick-skinned Pornpimol Kanchanalak are worried that this is indicative of a phenomenon that will see the sky falling. All that is good is being undermined by grasping, self-serving politicians.

The Nation’s Suthichai Yoon (17 September 2009: “From delusion to loss of faith in ‘democracy’ “) frets that a “significant number of those who responded to [a recent] questionnaire are apparently growing disillusioned with the prevailing political system – and it doesn’t matter what you call it.” Suthichai doesn’t have a new take on this or ask why it is that so many are disillusioned except to blame politicians. This refrain is the current royalist chorus, as it was in 1992-97.

And, like all good royalists, he worries about unity: “The prevailing divisiveness could deteriorate into another round of open confrontation…”. Indeed, this “menacing scenario seems unavoidable…”. And  Suthichai laments that the “promise of democracy has turned into a free-for-all among the political vested interest groups rather than a process through which differences can be settled based on the rule of law and moral values. Instead of a campaign to raise the awareness of the public, we have witnessed the victory of money politics, a steady erosion of political ethics, tyranny of the majority, and mob rule.”

All of this is to oppose constitutional amendment by politicians, disparage them as potential representatives and to deny the value of elections. If this sounds familiar, thinl of PAD’s critiques of the Thaksin regime and electoral politics.

It is no surprise to see PAD suppporter Senator Rosana Tositrakul saying (Bangkok Post, 17 September 2009: ” ‘Self-serving’ charter changes draw fire”)that the “constitutional changes proposed by the Senate-House joint committee on national reconciliation and constitutional amendments were intended only to protect the interests of politicians in power.”

All of this makes Thitinan Pongsudhirak’s article worth considering (Bangkok Post, 16 September 2009: “Lessons from the tragedy of 1997 charter”).

Telling it as it is

17 07 2009

The Nation continues to print opinion pieces by Pornpimol Kanchanalak. PPT has mentioned her chequered history here.  Her views seem somewhat reflective of a growing Sino-Thai, middle-class despair over the state of Thai society and politics.

In the latest epistle (16 July 2009: “Looking for the holy grail in all the wrong places”), Pornpimol takes a swipe at almost everyone, blaming workers, government, politicians, tax collectors, demonstrators and sundry others for all that is wrong.

Her comfortable world seems to be collapsing. She believes that all of that is wrong has a root cause of this anarchy is the attacks on the monarchy: “Hateful and venomous websites are proliferating like wildfire. They are anti every ‘establishment’ in the book. What goes around on the grapevine is even more menacing.”

In hindsight, and reflective of a broader rethinking that seems to be going on, Pornpimol blames PAD for dragging the monarchy into politics: “Once that was done, everything was fair game, nothing off-limits. The pictures of the airport seizures by protesters holding photographs of His Majesty and the monarchy’s yellow f1ags palpably sent the unsubstantiated impression to the whole world that there was an ‘invisible hand’ behind the movement…”. Her beloved monarchy was “already judged blindly and harshly – guilty as charged by the kangaroo court of some circles…. Six decades of honest and earnest public service by His Majesty regrettably got lost in the viciousness of banal politics.”

Of course, she is wrong. The monarchy has long been involved in politics. The palace’s involvement in the planning and implementation of the 2006 coup is well-known. PAD served the interests of conservative forces when they attacked elected governments and their symbolic use of the monarchy was apparently accepted in high places.

That Thaksin has remained influential and the horrid red shirts want democracy, liberty and freedom is a real worry for Pornpimol. She opines that the red shirts don’t even know what democracy means!

Indeed, she now believes that everyone has got it wrong: “As much as religion does not create virtue, and money does not solve every problem, the bilious pretension of false hope and blind faith in unbridled freedom is not the Holy Grail of democracy…. We should stop looking for the Holy Grail of democracy in all the wrong places.”

Confused? Yes. She doesn’t like PAD and the reds are impossible. Pornpimol seems to desire a return to order and the old institutions that she feels make life simpler, less conflicted and more comfortable for the middle class. If that’s anti-democratic, so be it.

Loving Abhisit

7 05 2009

In a column entitles “TELL IT AS IT IS”, Pornpimol Kanchanalak has an article in the Nation (7 May 2009: “One hundred and forty one days and counting”) which is little more than a propaganda piece about Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

PPT wonders if Abhisit needs posterior polishing by this author. She was convicted in the United States of disguising foreign funding to American politicians. “Pauline” may have turned over a new leaf now that she writes for the Nation, but admits to being “a jaded person … who has been around politicians of all stripes for almost all my adult life…” until Abhisit came along to offer “a breath of fresh air. He does not posture, does not brag, does not complain, does not do hyperbole, does not lie.” PPT has shown the latter not to be the case several times.

Pornpimol states that “he has been trying his mightiest to restore the TRUST of the people in their government and their leader and the rule of law.” Abhisit displays all kinds of wonderful characteristics: “The public never knew that during the Songkran riots, a group of red shirts stood in front of his house in Bangkok hurling lewd and vulgar obscenities at his wife and children, who they thought were in the house while the prime minister was in Pattaya. He did not complain about the incident to the public and did not try to make an issue of it to gain sympathy for his personal pain. We never heard him recount his deeds during his visit to his alma mater of Oxford and was confronted by Jai [sic] Ungpakorn. He never told the public what a superb job he did of explaining the logic behind the much-criticised lese majeste law in a matter-of-fact and honest manner that cut down his interrogator to size, and earned a hearty round of applause from an amazed and stunned audience. The best of minds – always critical to a fault – they would have jumped on him had they found a hole or a lapse in his logic. Time and again he has defended the blue colour of our flag without dragging the institution down to the level of dirty politics.”

Pornpimol is a true fan of the royalist Abhisit. So true, in fact, that she ignores evidence that is contrary to her views. The comments on the Oxford meeting with Ji Ungapakorn are simply wrong – and recall that it was at this meeting when Abhisit lied about Chotisak’s case having been dropped. And, there have been plenty of “best minds” that have faulted Abhisit’s logic on lese majeste. So rather than telling it as it is, Pauline is telling it as she wants it to be.

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