4 November 2005
Source: Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
On 3 November, a bomb exploded inside the compound of Thailand’s Manager Media Group, whose founder is facing a multi-million dollar defamation suit filed by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The blast, which occurred at around 10 pm, caused neither damage nor injury but it raised concern within Thailand’s press community that it was meant to threaten media.
Police Maj Col Suebpong Karuni said the attack could have likely stemmed from several motives, including attempts to threaten Sondhi Limthongkul, a founder of Manager Media Group and an outspoken critic of the government, according to ‘Thai Day’, a local language Daily whose office is located within the same compound.
In a joint statement released on 4 November, the Thai Journalists Association, the Confederation of Thai Journalists and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association urged the government to take quick action on the incident. “There have been similar incidents involving the media in the past, but the police could never arrest the attackers,” it said.
The statement said a quick response is necessary to support a recent claim by Thaksin that the Thai press under his government enjoys full freedom. He said there have been no bomb attacks on any press premise, nor a raid on newspaper office to destroy its printing press.
Earlier in October, Thaksin has filed separate civil and criminal libel suits against Sondhi, also a television anchor, and Manager Daily. The libel charges against Sondhi and his co-host stemmed from his remarks in the now banned current affairs TV program Thailand Daily, about Thaksin’s alleged infringement of royal prerogative.
The charges against Manager Daily, which is published by Manager Media Group, stemmed from remarks by a revered monk criticising Thaksin’s abuses of power, published in the newspaper.
The bomb attack followed the murder on 1 November of Santi Lammaninin, 38, a journalist and newspaper owner in the Thai beach resort town of Pattaya. The owner the Thai-language Pattaya Post was shot dead while blindfolded and his hands tied up.
His body was found inside his car along a road outside Pattaya, 150 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of the capital, Bangkok. Police are investigating the killing, which they say could be linked to his gambling debts or to stories he had written about a prostitution network that had caused the transfer of police officers.
His wife told police that Santi has not been staying in one place over the past two months for fear of his life but never said why his life might be in danger, according to local newspapers reports on 3 November.
Santi also worked as a freelancer for the military-owned Channel 7 television station as well as ‘Kao Sod’ daily newspaper.
The TJA condemned the killing as a blatant and violent act and urged the police to quickly bring the perpetrators to justice.
Press freedom in Thailand has gravely deteriorated this year that Reporters Without Borders ranked the country at 107th among 167 countries in its 2005 Press Freedom Index report, a drop of 48 places from its spot last year.