Journalism: How the Thai press is attacking freedom of the press

unfortunately for the Thais, there is very little free press left

by Tammy, Thai Intel’s humanity journalist

I knew it, I expected it-yet like an idiot-I just sat and counted the hours-telling myself when it hits 6 hour I will respond.

Well, it had been about 6 hours since the news about how Thailand‘s ranking in the “freedom of the press” index just tanked by about 20-30 places to reach the very close to the bottom of the list that has ranking of about 170 country-hit Thailand.

Thai press freedom is at about 130-140 of the 170 countries tracked by the index and the Thai press community has remained absolutely silent.

That massive record drop is not surprising-as an American think-tank that tracks the level of global freedom-now ranks Thailand as a “Semi-free” country.

Furthermore, the silence of the Thai journalism community is also not very surprising-as one after another crack-down on the press, such as radio and internet, of the opposition political party to the government, the Red Shirt and those that openly write about Thai royalism-that have been going on for a long time now-one after one shut-down or censored-received nothing but silence from all major Thai press association.

It is also no surprising-since just yesterday-the Thai cultural ministry, the Thai ICT ministry and the Thai FBI-got together and made a statement that they will jointly rush in a crackdown on the all media that does not respect Thai royalism-and all of Thailand’s journalism related association also remained silent.

What is left in Thailand now, as far as free press is concerned, that is keeping Thailand’s ranking from deteriorating further-is nothing but pockets of critical thinking at a few mainstream Thai media house.

The reasons for the silence is complex.

Most Thai media house have lucrative business contract with the government and even with the few remaining independent houses-self-censorship is rampant. And that is because like everything else in Thailand, The Thai media is polarized.

Thailand is now ruled by the elite royalist-that by its nature, is inherently anti-democracy and freedom. The opposition party and the Red Shirt movement are pro-democracy and freedom-and thus inherently takes a more relaxed position on royalism-believing that it is basic human rights to discuss Thai royalism.

It is difficult to make the connection, however, apart from the financial gains consideration, why the Thai press have sided with the royalist elite rule of Thailand and are thus inherently anti democracy and freedom.

Few have offered credible arguments, but Thai Intel believes it is related to the level of development associated with Thai journalism and the ownership structure of most of Thai media house.

Both Thai TV and Radio are about 70%-80% owned by the government and the military, and the major newspapers are controlled by either the board of that media house or strong politicized personality of that media house. Adding the financial benefit of an alignment with the government and the corporate public relations that is part of the elite rule of Thailand-these factors makes it virtually impossible for quality journalism to take root in Thailand.

Lacking a root in quality journalism and critical thinking-then the philosophical position of the media house and the journalist themselves thus comes into the picture.

Unfortunately for Thailand-the royalist elite rule of Thailand have found the environment of low professional level of the Thai media community-to be an excellent “Blank Paper” to make an imprint upon. And the imprinting is an extremely well run propaganda machine-with very senior and extremely capable former journalist at the helm.

“Thailand is a special and unique place with royalsim where the good royalist can do no wrong,” is the basic philosophical position that is imprinted. And thus anything other than that is the “Evil” that needs to be destroy.

So with that type of a philosophy, it is public relations work for the royalist elite rule of Thailand-and critical thinking in Thailand that is reserved for the opposition party, the Red Shirts and those press that are free.

The conclusion is, the Thai press attacks freedom of the press.

And thus, the “Silence of the Lamb.”