21 October 2005
Source: Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEPA)
The latest World Press Freedom Index released by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders on 20 October 2005 has Thailand slipping a staggering 48 places. Ranked 59th out of 167 surveyed countries last year, Thailand this year occupies 107th place, two places behind Indonesia, and 17 behind Cambodia.
While RSF gave no detailed discussion of Thailand per se, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance says the factors that resulted in Thailand’s precipitous drop should be “obvious”.
“More than anything or anybody else, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra should take the blame for this dismaying portrayal of Thailand as a country where the press is suddenly under a dark cloud,” SEAPA Executive Director Roby Alampay said.
“A rising tide of gratuitous defamation suits initiated by government agencies and private entities with ties to the Prime Minister, his move to have greater control over media reports via emergency powers, his family’s and associates’ overbearing influence in the broadcast and telecommunications industry, government initiatives to rein in community radio, and troubling attempts to control content on the Internet—these have all created a climate of fear in the Thai press. Because of this climate of vulnerability, Thailand is in the world’s spotlight, but it is the Prime Minister who should take a bow.”