Sunday, May 04, 2008

Reference: PK Samak's conduct with media faulted, Bangkok Post, May 4, 2008

According to various Thai journalists' associations, press freedoms in Thailand are being eroded because their journalists are unable to stand toe to toe, eyeball to eyeball, and debate the issues with Prime Minister Samak. Apparently, the problem is that the Prime Minister is too aggressive. He points his fingers at journalists and uses hostile language and a demeaning tone of voice.

The failure of Thai journalists to debate with Mr Samak (Reference: PK Samak's conduct with media faulted, Bangkok Post, May 4, 2008) appears to be more of a competency issue than a press freedom issue. Mr Samak has not abused his authority to shut down dissenting media and he has not filed defamation lawsuits against anyone as others before him had done. Instead he has brought the debate to a public forum. This kind open discourse is healthy, democratic, and what the freedom of the press is supposed to provide. Do Thai journalists not possess the competency to function in this setting?

In the past, the inability to debate the issues in a public forum has led to defamation lawsuits. Has that karma come full circle? Shall we now see defamation lawsuits filed by the press against the Prime Minister?

Cha-am Jamal

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