Partisan politics, favoritism in Thai journalism

It was an unexpected when former Member of Parliament, Chumpol Chumsai commanded the agitated mob towards German journalist Nick Nostitz. The Democrat politician, just like the thugs they employ, knew full well what he did, what he said on stage and the follow-up attacks on Nostitz was done in a conscious, deliberate manner.

There is an escalating culture of violence against journalists. This hate attitude is found in the Bangkok anti-Government mobs, and even during the September south rubber protests where the mob turned violent, burning a car belonging to a local reporter.

Despite the delay in responding to the case of Nostitiz, the Thai Journalists Association and the National Press Council issued a very mild joint statement on Monday outlining the responsibility and performance of duty of the media in the wake of political conflicts.

Why didn’t the Thai Journalists Association directly condemn those responsible for the attacks and criticize the leadership of a confrontational political party?

It seems that the group’s senior members are either afraid to stand for their ethics or quite possibly interested to play politics rather than defend the work of their peers. It is good that Southeast Asian Press Alliance came out with a strong worded statement today.

The story continues with yesterday’s incident, how the mob marched to Channel 3 headquarters with banners and whistles. Some were seen carrying sticks and glass bottles. With all the intent to intimidate, they made their demands. Their anger was against a well known news anchor, Sorayuth. Confusing as it may seem, the mob wanted Sorayuth to apologize for not picking sides.

The Thai Journalists Association has been quiet on this harassment among many others even though its board is fully aware of the incident. According to the grapevine, personal grudges and hatred has clouded the minds of the association. This throws into question the “independent” status of this media non-governmental organization.

Many of local organizations and networks are in itself bias. Very often influential members on their board display an anti-Government stand and expect their members to obey their wishes. Other times they are selective in their promotion on the “freedom of expression”. Corrupted favoritism exist even in a self-professed ethical organization.

Is there no impartiality? None in the case of the TJA. Their board consist of elites pretending to be impartial or driven by a greater personal ambition. The monopoly of their management has changed from fighting for press freedom to championing the personal agendas that benefit their careers.

Journalists working in Thailand work under difficult circumstances, and often accused as a spy for the opposing side. They also face intimidation and threats towards their families. It has been an ongoing problem specially when peers boycott peers as a form of punishment for those who do not toe the line.

Can journalists get guidance, support, and justice from organizations that claim to fight for Press Freedom? Can they find equality in a system that is created for them?

Or is Press Freedom in Thailand determined by political affiliation and corrupted cronyism? Only these associations can accurately answer.

 

Posted on: 26/11/2013, by : Areva Aamy
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