TJA Protests Killing of Provincial Reporter

Thai Journalists Association (TJA) on Wednesday protested against a fresh killing of a provincial reporter in Phuket Province and urged police to quickly bring culprits to justice.

Surapong Ritthee, 43, was gunned down by an armed man in front of a grocery near at about 3 AM on Tuesday. He was reporter for Thailand’s mass circulation daily , Thai Rath and Channel 3 television station in this world-renown beach resort town. He also owned bi-monthly Siang Tai Rai Wan newspaper (Voice of the South). He has several businesses in Phuket including pub and restaurant as well as shrimp farming.

In its statement issued on February 12, TJA said it believed Mr. Surapong has duly and honestly perform his duty as a reporter. Police suspected Surapong’s expose on a pub in Patong beach operating an illegal girl show might cause his death. After the report, provincial authority ordered the closure of the premise, causing its owner to lose millions of Baht.

TJA urged local politicians and mafia bosses involved o resort to legal means in settling problems or conflicts that may arise from media reports instead of using this stereo-type violence

In the light of this incident, TJA also called on provincial reporters who work for both national and local newspaper to duly perform its duty in accordance with journalistic ethics of The Press Council of Thailand. It also warned them to avoid meddling in any illegal business or having vested interest that may cause them to violate journalism ethics.

The statement also urged national police chief to bring the culprits to justice and make the investigation transparent since the case was in the interest of the public and had implications on the development of press freedom in Thailand.

The victim was this year’s first reporter, believed to have been killed over his expose of unscrupulous business interests in provinces. He was the second Thai Rath reporter to be killed in this famous tourist resort town since 1995.