Between Thaksin and the junta – who was worse for the Thai media?

June 11, 2007

Did the media have it better under the regime of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra? Respected media reform advocate Prof Ubonrat Siriyuwasak tells The Nation that as bad as Thaksin had been, the current junta-led regime is worse for having wiped out the constitutional guarantee for all freedoms.

She notes the print media’s apparent indifference to violations against the broadcast news media and the Internet, and deplores what she thinks is the cause – the politicisation of media outlets and organisations, including the Thai Journalists Association and the Press Council, who appeared to have lost their independence.

To find out her suggestions on what the people can do to fight the current assault on media freedom, read the full interview here.


Thai government bows to media pressure to drop draft bill

May 16, 2007

The junta-appointed cabinet in Thailand has dropped its own draft publishing bill following pressure from the media fraternity, reports Bangkok Post today. Instead, the government will consider the version drafted by members of the media sitting in the National Legislative Assembly, which repeals the draconian 1941 Printing Act. See also the Nation Multimedia Group’s group editor Tepchai Yong’s comment.

In Malaysia, an arts party for press freedom

May 15, 2007

poster2.jpegSEAPA partners in Malaysia, the Centre for Independent Journalism and web-based daily, celebrated World Press Freedom Day with indy music outfit Troubadours KL. Poetry recitals, indy music performances, art workshop for children, cartoon exhibition . . . it all happened at the arts hub Central Market in Kuala Lumpur, over the 5 May weekend. More pictures and stories here.  poetryreading.jpeg

Thai media want old law gone

May 15, 2007

One of the cited justifications for the 19 September 2006 coup d’etat in Thailand was for the return of true democracy following years of backslide under deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

“So,” writes Thepchai Yong, group editor of The Nation Multimedia Group, “as we are working on political reforms in conjunction with the drafting of a new constitution, abrogating the 1941 Printing Act should be at the top of the agenda.”

The antiquated law gives the police licence to curb the media, so much so that these police staff are actually termed “press officers”. They may censor and halt publication and revoke licences of newspapers over content that are deemed to “disturb peace and good morals”.

The government should pay heed to the urging of the Thai Journalists Association and other media groups for the antiquated law to be replaced with a media-friendly bill drafted by members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), argues Yong. Find out more here.

Mizzima News wins IPI’s Free Media Pioneer; a third for SEAPA network

May 14, 2007

ipi_logo_blue.gifmizzimalogo-21.jpegThe International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, has announced its decision to honour the Mizzima News Agency with its 2007 Free Media Pioneer Award. Mizzima joins two others in the SEAPA network to have been so honoured in the past – a SEAPA founding member, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Indonesia (1997), and the independent online newspaper (2001).

Managing Editor Sein Win will receive the prize on behalf of Mizzima News at an award ceremony on 15 May 2007, during the IPI World Congress in Istanbul, Turkey (12-15 May). Read the rest of this entry »

Bad press for media freedom in Thailand

May 5, 2007

May 3 is an occasion for media all over the world to take stock of how they have fared over the year in being able to do their job unfettered. Kavi Chongkittavorn, assitant group editor of Nation Multimedia Group and SEAPA chair, comments on Thailand’s fallen ranking according to two international media rights group, noting that for all the junta’s good intentions since toppling former premier Thaksin Shinawatra in September 2006, the results have yet to speak for themselves.

“Thai officials have yet to learn how to respond to negative news, or website postings, without tarnishing the country’s generally good record for press freedom. The blocking of CNN, the BBC, YouTube and other websites, even briefly, has backfired and done terrible damage to the country’s international standing,” he writes. Read Kavi’s full comment here.

Malaysia to set up unit to counter online ‘lies’

April 27, 2007

The unfettered online accusations of government corruption over the past weeks in the run-up to two hotly-contested by-elections in Malaysia have prompted the government to enter the cyber battlefield by setting up a unit to monitor and counter the “lies”.

Deputy Information Minister Chia Kwang Chye said the unit will not have enforcement power, but will use as ‘weapons’ the written word to “disseminate information, explain correct information, and counter the misinformation on government policies,” reports the New Straits Times.