Thursday, 8 May 2014

Hugging Fascists - The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand's Fake "Neutrality"

In 2011 one of the UK's most respected journalists was in Bangkok on an assignment. During the course of that assignment he happened to visit Bangkok's well-known Foreign Correspondents' Club Thailand (FCCT).

"This place is nothing to do with journalism," he said. "It's just about PR."


The Spanish Civil War got George Orwell. Bangkok 2014 got Jonathan Head.

Fast-forward a couple of years and Thai journalist, political activist and trade unionist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, has just received a lengthy prison sentence for being the editor of a magazine that contained an article which was deemed to make allegorical references to the Thai King which were also deemed to commit the crime of "lese majeste". 

The FCCT made no statement of condemnation regarding Somyot's imprisonment. In fact, well-known FCCT members took to social media and publicly attacked Somyot stating that he is "not a real journalist" because he is "biased" and has "political affiliations". 

Earlier this year (2014) the FCCT made a further statement about "neutrality" with the clear message that the only "journalists" they consider "bonafide" are the ones that meet their "neutrality" test. It's a truly cowardly and pathetic position to adopt that undoes a very noble history of foreign correspondents - e.g. George Orwell in the Spanish Civil War - opposing the kind of fascism and totalitarianism that is very obviously on the march in Thailand. 

In 2014 the FCCT also elected a new President, the BBC's Jonathan Head, a man who breached any ethical guidelines by admitting he "hugged" an activist of the violent Thai fascist PDRC mob and who also asked questions on behalf of fully-paid up members of the fascist-supporting Thai Democrat Party. When I questioned Mr Head about these matters he then sent me abusive and intimidating emails, something for which his bosses at BBC News were forced to apologise for.

And now, after another attack on Nick Nostitz, one of the few foreign journalists in Bangkok willing to speak out against the rise of fascism in Thailand, the FCCT issue a quite extraordinary response claiming that violent attacks by the PDRC have "not been reported". 

Now, let's be clear, and I'll put this in caps THE ONLY REASON THAT THE VIOLENT ATTACKS BY THE PDRC HAVE NOT BEEN REPORTED IS BECAUSE BANGKOK'S FOREIGN MEDIA CORPS HAVE IGNORED THEM. 

Their have been literally hundreds of violent attacks by PDRC thugs on ordinary Bangkokians over the last six months. These attacks have included murder, attempted murder, stabbings, beatings, shootings and arson. They've been very WIDELY REPORTED IN THE THAI PRESS. Yet, strangely enough, they've received scant attention from the Thai English-language press, the foreign media corps in Bangkok and the English blogging and social media community. I've picked up on a few but it gets to feeling like you're banging your head on a brick wall when, as a single lonely blogger, you report this stuff and then get routinely accused of "bias" by the same FCCT members who are now lamenting the "under-reporting" of these violent attacks.

Look, FCCT lackeys, this is simple, read  Martin Niemöller's very famous and well-known "First They Came... " quotation, which I've re-edited into a Bangkok foreign correspondent version below... 


"First they came for the Red Shirts, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Red Shirt.

Then they came for lese majeste victim's Somyot and Da Torpedo, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a lese majeste victim (and wanted to keep my media visa)

Then they came for a poor, "uneducated" Thai voter, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a poor, "uneducated" Thai voter (they make for very good maids though).

Then they came for me - and there was no-one left to speak for me."



1 comment:

  1. Good heavens Andrew - we may be agreeing on something

    ReplyDelete

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