CNS not internet savvy

CNS not internet savvy - Bangkok Post, March 21, 2007
Six months after the coup, the military top brass who brought tanks and troops onto Bangkok's streets, surprisingly don't know how to create a website. The Council for National Security's website, www.cns.go.th, offers the following message: ''Under construction. Be prepared to meet us soon.'' What's happened to the CNS website clearly exposes a weakness of the generals...

[2015 note: Like many Thai newspaper articles from just a few years ago, this article is no longer online as link structures are changed month to month and entire years of stories unceremoniously dumped to save database space. Below is the complete text of the original article.]

COMMENTARY

CNS not internet savvy

Saritdet Marukatat

Six months after the coup, the military top brass who brought tanks and troops onto Bangkok's streets, surprisingly don't know how to create a website. The Council for National Security's website, www.cns.go.th, offers the following message: ''Under construction. Be prepared to meet us soon.'' What's happened to the CNS website clearly exposes a weakness of the generals.

CNS leader Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin and his top military aides were quick to oust Thaksin Shinawatra from power. It took them only days to map out a crucial plan and strategy, taking advantage of the former telecom tycoon's absence from the country on an overseas trip as the day of the operation. The highlight of Mr Thaksin's trip was supposed to be his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Of course, Mr Thaksin never got to stand on the UN podium. Instead, he had to scramble for a flight to London, where his exile began.

Yesterday the CNS must have been happy listening to reports of progress made by eight agencies since the coup, in a highly publicised briefing that was broadcast live on television. Each agency was given about 15 minutes to report to the military leaders.

The police assured them of attempts to take action against Mr Thaksin on lese majeste and other charges. The National Legislative Assembly told them how many bills it had passed since being picked by the CNS to function as the lawmaking body. The Assets Scrutiny Committee promised to wrap up all 13 cases on their hands within the one-year timeline, with more politicians and officials to be sued. The Constitution Drafting Committee was confident that a new charter would be completed as planned and a new election held within this year after the people exercise their right on the charter referendum.

Yesterday's show may ease some pressure on the CNS. The longer the coup-makers stay in power, the less popular they seem to be. That's not surprising, given that the public has started to question the military leaders' ability to take action on Mr Thaksin and other corruption charges committed by the previous government. Some are even concerned about the future of the country amid reports, from time to time, that the generals might want to hold on to power longer than promised.

Growing questions about the CNS must stop. The problem is that the generals, while quick to stage a coup, are slow with public relations, an operation they are not familiar with. In fact, one of the most important missions after Sept 19 was to keep the public constantly informed and updated about what the CNS was doing to correct the national problems cited as grounds to kick the elected government out of office and bring in Gen Surayud Chulanont as the new government leader. It's no secret that Gen Sonthi and his colleagues did not like Mr Thaksin. But love him or hate him, they have something to learn from the former premier. Even though he is abroad, Mr Thaksin is always finding ways to get his message across to Thai audiences. He uses lawyer Noppadon Pattama to speak for him within the country, gives foreign media interviews from time to time, travels around to keep himself in the media spotlight and has also opened his website, www.hi-thaksin.net. Mr Thaksin's website could give the CNS an idea how their own website should be built. It has updated information on what he's doing, his speeches delivered overseas and even a place for followers and readers to write to him and air comments. Of course, it's another propaganda machine for the former Thai Rak Thai party founder and leader. Though the government has blocked the website, Mr Thaksin definitely won't stop there. He'll find other channels to air his views.

The CNS has only six months left to do the same. It does not make any sense taking so long to jot down the contents on its website. And the generals must realise that after the coup, the most important weapon isn't troops or tanks, it's information. Its www.cns.go.th should offer a channel to directly communicate with the public. The website should also have an English version, as the diplomatic corps in Bangkok are eager to know how far the CNS has fulfilled its promises to correct the problems cited as grounds for staging the coup.
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