PM’s Office Minister Satit Wongnongtaey Monday demanded MCOT Plc to ensure that fugitive former prime minister Shinawatra Thaksin could not use the state media to attack the country again.
Satit said Thaksin is a fugitive and used the state-owned media to attack the country and the judicial system as well as defaming the Privy Council so such practice should not be allowed to happen again.
On Sunday, Jom Phetpradab, a radio programme host on FM100.5, owned by MCOT, interviewed Thaksin live.
Satit said he did not order the MCOT to take action against Jom but the MCOT board of directors initiated the investigation on its own.
He said it was the second time that Thaksin used a state media owned by MCOT to attack the country so the MCOT board should prevent it from happening again.
MCOT told not to broadcast Thaksin’s remarks
PM’s Office Minister Satit Wongnongtaey has told MCOT, the state-run media company under his supervision, not to allow fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s comments on air again, saying they were a threat to peace.
He said a recent interview by Thaksin on a radio programme had a “direct impact” on the country and could worsen the current political situation as the ex-leader made negative comments against Thailand, the Privy Council and the justice system.
“MCOT should have measures to prevent such an incident from happening again. Thaksin, a fugitive convict, should not be allowed to use state media to interfere with the country’s peace,” Satit said.
He was referring to the programme on the MCOT-run FM 100.5 MHz radio station on Sunday, hosted by Jom Petpradab, who previously worked at iTV when it was owned by Thaksin’s family.
Satit said yesterday he would allow MCOT executives to decide what to do and he would not intervene.
MCOT vice president for radio and special affairs, Somjit Chinsomboon, said the management had not decided whether to remove Jom as programme host.
Jom yesterday issued a statement insisting he did his job in the public interest. “But if my work was understood as political, I am very sorry for it. For preventing any problems to MCOT staff, I will stop hosting the programme from today,” he said.
Thaksin yesterday deplored the government’s alleged intervention in the state media.
“After my interview with Khun Jom, I hear the government ordered investigation and an embargo. How free they said the media are! The government should not fear the truth,” read a Thai message on Thaksin’s Twitter social-networking account.
During the interview, Thaksin tried to clear his name against allegations and rumours, including speculation he had cancer.
At a senatorial meeting in Parliament yesterday, a group of senators criticised the state-funded TV Thai for broadcasting a special report about Thaksin’s diamond mining business in Africa.
Appointed Senator Sukanya Sudbantad, former dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Communication Arts, said the station was supposed to present unbiased content but an evaluation committee had found a lack of neutrality in TV Thai.
Prasan Marukapitak, another appointed senator, expressed concern the report about Thaksin could cause public confusion. Somchai Sawangkan, fellow appointed member of the Senate, said the report indicated the station had become a tool for Thaksin’s propaganda campaign.
Bangkok Senator Rosana Tositrakul said she agreed to present stories from both sides of a conflict, but she saw no benefit in allowing an exchange of arguments and accusations on air.
Kirkkiat Pipatseritham, station board chairman, insisted on TV Thai’s neutrality and freedom of reporting without political intervention.
Thepchai Yong, the station’s director, said the special report about diamond mining was aimed at telling the problem of “blood diamonds” in Africa, where mining is done in a war zone and finances the conflict. He said footage of Thaksin’s comment was shown in order to present the other side of the story, although he admitted the ex-leader could capitalise on the opportunity.
By The Nation
Published on September 8, 2009
Thepthai counters Thaksin on media freedom
BANGKOK, 7 September 2009 (NNT) – Spokesperson to Democrat Party Leader Thepthai Senpong has argued against deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s criticism made via his online Twitter page, stating that the government was impeding freedom of media.
To counter the online criticism, Mr Thepthai claimed that the government had never impeded media freedom as alleged. He added that the government itself was blamed for not utilizing public media at the fullest extent, citing that there were more news reports of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and the Puea Thai Party.
The spokesperson then asked all parties to probe back on how the Thaksin government intervened or controlled the operation of media. He claimed his then-opposition Democrat Party used the media only 10% in all news reports.
Mr Thepthai alleged the ousted prime minister for being an opportunist and using marketing beyond politics.
He also criticized Mr Thaksin for giving an interview via MCOT, one of the government’s media, citing that he was a fugitive and had no rights to do so.