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  1. #11
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    Re: Foreign media coverage of our crisis is distorted

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Cleary View Post
    Absolutely total nonsense!
    Less nonsense, perhaps, if you actually take the time to carefully read the article and consider what it says rather than what you think it might say. The thesis is that criticism of the Monarchy alone has never been a basis for any of the convictions for lese majeste, and actions must rise to the level of "slanting, libelling or vandalising the Monarchy."

    Now you're welcome to take issue with the author's thesis, but so far all you have done is to produce irrelevancies that don't address this particular point of the writer. I would hope that as a writer yourself, you would be sensitive to this type of straw man argument. I'm sure you could give us many examples of people calling your ideas 'nonsense' based on things you did not, in fact, write.

  2. #12
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    Re: Foreign media coverage of our crisis is distorted

    I will ignore this article to be total fabrication.

  3. #13
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    Re: Foreign media coverage of our crisis is distorted

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim View Post
    Less nonsense, perhaps, if you actually take the time to carefully read the article and consider what it says rather than what you think it might say. The thesis is that criticism of the Monarchy alone has never been a basis for any of the convictions for lese majeste, and actions must rise to the level of "slanting, libelling or vandalising the Monarchy."

    Now you're welcome to take issue with the author's thesis, but so far all you have done is to produce irrelevancies that don't address this particular point of the writer. I would hope that as a writer yourself, you would be sensitive to this type of straw man argument. I'm sure you could give us many examples of people calling your ideas 'nonsense' based on things you did not, in fact, write.

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  4. #14
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    Re: Foreign media coverage of our crisis is distorted

    I think what the author of this article should have titled it instead is, "Foreigners have no right to criticize or offer opinions on our crisis and issues." Whatever the author says, that's the overall vibe I'm getting. And reading some of the opinions of the native Thais on this forum about the crisis not too long ago, I'd say that's a popular sentiment.

    What I find interesting is that the author of this article is going off on all sorts of tangents without offering comments on the conduct and tactics of the PAD protestors themselves. Shutting down airports, acting in a threatening manner, and making lives miserable for their fellow Thais when they could least afford it financially, isn't the greatest way to protest any issue. I don't fault anyone in Thailand, or anywhere else, for having opinions about their government, or any social issues. That is their right to express such opinions. When protests become disruptive, such as those riots in Greece, all credibility, respect, and sympathy go skyrocketing out the window.

  5. #15
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    Re: Foreign media coverage of our crisis is distorted

    Sulak Sivaraksa and his 15 charges of lese majeste are mentioned in the article. He has always been very critical of the use of lese majeste and there is a collection of papers, court proceedings and interviews with him entitled Modern Thai Monarchy and Cultural Politics (in English, freely available in Thailand, although published in 1996 so a little dated). His arguments are a fascinating read, so many of the charges he has faced can be turned on their head, and he really enjoys and makes the most of his days in court!

    There are some interesting points to note, in particular the way that the punishment for lese majeste has been increased over time, maximum 3 years imprisonment in the late 1890s compared to 3-15 years now, as it changed from a charge against damaging the royal reputation to a matter of national security. And that has made its use much more political.

    Also in Veera Musikapong's case, I'd forgotten that Chuan Leekpai gave evidence in his defence. Just a nice little footnote to the current political jockeying.

    The issue of foreigners and lese majeste is also mentioned, for example a Japanese visitor in the 1970s refusing to stand for the royal anthem in the cinema. The Frenchman mentioned by Stephen was apparently cleared by the court as it ruled his intention had not been to insult the royal family.

    Fascinating topic!

  6. #16
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    Re: Foreign media coverage of our crisis is distorted

    Most of the foreign media coverage I have read was related to the closure of the airports and the taking over of government buildings. It's just something that the international community finds difficult to understand in a democratic society.
    And when you consider the fact that corporations from many of these countries have invested large amounts of money in Thailand, it is not unreasonable for them to be concerned.
    Until the situation is more stable, I would think most corporations would not look favorably at new investments. And that will hinder the growth of good manufacturing jobs in Thailand, especially if the corporations jump ship and move to another country.
    Needless to say - the new government will have it's hands full to rebuild the respect of the international business community, especially the ones that have lost a lot of money because of the crisis.

  7. #17
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    Re: Foreign media coverage of our crisis is distorted

    Reports in 'The Economist' show unfounded theories

    Published on December 13, 2008

    I am deeply dismayed by The Economist magazine's narrow views and condescending attitude.

    In trying to justify pre-supposed contentions, its pieces ("The King and Them" and "A Right Royal Mess" on December 4) chose to give credence to one American journalist writing about His Majesty the King and interpreting events to suit his unfounded conspiracy-prone speculations, while discarding facts that prove otherwise. More fundamentally, the articles ignore the very fact that each country evolves from a background specific to itself, and that the bond between Thais and their kings are deeply rooted in the Kingdom's centuries-long history.


    Throughout his reign, His Majesty has clearly demonstrated that he is not involved in politics, strictly adhering to the roles prescribed by law. His steadfast neutrality adds to the weight of his words - his moral authority, not political power. His interventions have been few and, when made, were meant to prevent further bloodshed and not to side with any groups.


    Nevertheless, political groups and analysts alike seem to have tried to get him involved. Prior to military intervention on September 19, 2006, when Thailand's political system seemed to have ground to a halt, a call was made for a royally conferred government. The King, in his address to the judges in April, refused and said the problems must be resolved through constitutional means. If he had no faith in democracy, he could have done otherwise and Thais would have obliged.


    There is no need, as there never has been, for any behind-the-scenes intrigue, as alleged. The affection and reverence that Thais feel towards the King is genuine and voluntary, stemming as much from their appreciation for his lifelong devotion to the well-being of his people as for his commitment to democracy. Yet, some groups have sought to make claims of royal support or interpret his action or silence for their own political ends. Indeed, the King said in 2005 that he was not beyond criticism. But his position as being above politics does not allow him to respond to any political claims or allegations against him (unfortunately, including those made by The Economist) - thus the raison d'etre for Thais to call for a lese majeste law to protect their King.


    Here is another omitted fact: in Thailand, as in other democracies, laws are enacted by parliamentarians in response to the will of the people they represent. By neglecting facts and simple logic like this, the articles blatantly make wrongful accusations regarding the King and offend Thais. They deserve our protest in strongest terms.


    THARIT CHARUNGVAT


    DIRECTOR-GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION AND SPOKESMAN OF THE FOREIGN MINISTRY

  8. #18
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    Re: Foreign media coverage of our crisis is distorted

    Articles should not have been based on biased book

    Article in "The Economist" magazine dated November 29, titled "Thailand - Desperate Days".

    The report starts with: "A last desperate attempt by Thailand's royalist People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to cause chaos and force the Army to seize power looked dangerously close to succeeding ..." This statement can be construed as misleading to readers unfamiliar with Thai politics. Whereas it cannot be denied that the PAD was vociferous in calling itself the champion and defender of a constitutional monarchy, any insinuations linking the Palace to condoning or supporting the takeover of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports by PAD supporters last week must be strongly denied. His Majesty is above politics and has adhered to this principle throughout his 62-year reign. Any attempt to use him for political gain by either side is wrong.

    Furthermore, the article contradicts itself, saying that the PAD's tactics "have lost it much of the support it had from middle-class Bangkokians", but in another sentence states that "it has increasingly looked like a fight to the death by the country's traditional, royalist elite against a threat to its dominance from an authoritarian but highly popular leader from outside the Bangkok-based clique".

    Such contradictory statements in a magazine of such high calibre are disappointing. In fact, PAD supporters come from all cross-sections of society: a few from the so-called "traditional royalist elite", a great number from the middle and professional classes of Bangkok, as well as from all over Thailand. Basically, support for the PAD movement originated from middle-class taxpayers who hated seeing their taxes being squandered on the populist policies of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to keep himself and his party in power. The final straw came when Thaksin sold his telecom empire to a Singapore company for Bt76 billion without having to pay any taxes.

    It is quite understandable why so many people lately have misunderstood the role of the Thai monarchy.

    This is due largely to the fact that Paul M Handley's book, "The King Never Smiles", has been widely acclaimed as the authority on the subject. Sadly, it is a shallow, badly researched, historically inaccurate and prejudiced book, in which the author has presented half-truths and distorted reality to prove his point.

    The author clearly collaborated with many Thai academics, as many of his primary sources are in Thai, and one wonders why they gave him false information. Unfortunately, this book has remained undisputed for two years and has succeeded in brainwashing a great number of its readers.


    MR PRIYANANDANA RANGSIT

    SENATOR

  9. #19
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    Re: Foreign media coverage of our crisis is distorted

    The Nation

    I am disappointed that even the vaunted Economist has fallen for the archetype of the sinister all-powerful mastermind perpetuated by the likes of Paul Handley. To belittle an entire people for subscribing to a "fairy tale" smacks of the same condescending attitude that the magazine finds so objectionable in the PAD.

    If they cared enough to follow His Majesty the King's pronouncements on various occasions, they would have found that the trendy contrarianism these days on the subject of the monarchy is not supported by facts. If they went beyond the rumours and gossip, they would have found ample primary evidence that he is indeed liberal-minded, supportive of democracy and openness and loath to intervene in politics, much less take an active behind-the-scenes role.

    He has spoken out against the lese-majeste law in as clear a fashion as possible for someone in his position, stressing that enforcement of the law caused him nothing but trouble and disagreeing with the notion that "the King can do no wrong".

    Criticism of him should be allowed, he argued, so that he would know what he had done wrong. The fact that his unequivocal rejection of this much-abused law did not result in legislative changes suggests not abundant political power, as The Economist seems to believe, but a decided lack of it.

    When Thailand's political system reached an impasse in 2006 and public opinion tilted towards the idea of a royally conferred government, the King refused, insisting that any political problems must be resolved democratically and through constitutional means. Addressing incoming judges that year, he said: "I beg of you, do not abandon democratic rule." He had always been careful not to overstep his duties, he told them, as doing so would have been undemocratic. He was greatly troubled, he repeatedly said, by the willy-nilly calls for a royally conferred government, which he regarded as undemocratic and unreasonable.

    These utterances stand in stark contrast to the puppet-master caricature the magazine paints. It is absurd to infer, simply because certain groups seek to wrap themselves in the royal flag to capitalise on the King's popularity, interpret or ignore his words as they see fit, or even to draw him directly into the fray, that he must be the one pulling the strings.

    It should be obvious, had the writers done their homework, that the King is acutely conscious of his role as a constitutional monarch and the constraints that come with the position.

    Indeed, it is his strict observance of kingly responsibilities that has been the source of his moral authority. This means, however, that he is unable to respond to or repudiate those who attack him or claim to act in his name.

    The Economist is blaming the victim when it should be setting its sights on those who exploit the King and his popularity to serve their own ends.


    JAKKRIT SRIVALI

    Bangkok

  10. #20
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    Re: Foreign media coverage of our crisis is distorted

    Article's writer ignorant or bought

    As a non-yellow-shirt or red-shirt Thai, I totally agree with Khun Thanong Khanthong's column on foreign-media coverage of our crisis. The comments in the December 4 edition of The Economist were certainly distorted and insulting to the Thai people. The person who wrote this criticism was either intentionally ignorant of the UK government's reason for revoking Thaksin's visa or he has been pocketing a large handout from Thaksin' cunning sale of the Manchester City Football Club!


    SUDHAMA K

    BANGKOK

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