RIGHTS-THAILAND: Thaksin company courts controversy - IPS, July 16, 2005
...It is a case that has brought into relief a range of issues,
including the right of a citizen to criticise a company linked to
the political establishment, Thailand's commitment to international
treaties it has signed on political and civil liberties and the
concerns over conflicts-of-interest between politics and business.
...Thai and foreign media and human rights groups were astounded
by such demands, since it was an unparalleled amount being made
here by a business giant that had earned a net profit of 9.7 billion
baht (242.5 million dollars) the year the libel charges were made.
...''This case will be closely followed by many people beyond Thailand
because Shin Corp. is not your typical business,'' Roby Alampay,
executive director of the South-east Asia Press Alliance, a regional
media watchdog, told IPS. ''It will clarify what leeway and rights
a citizen has to question a big company.''
The intertwining of business and political interests has been a
common phenomenon in the developing democracies of the region, he
added. ''Supinya's case is the most blatant illustration of this
problem,'' Alampay said.
Such examples abound in the current Thai government, with cabinet
ministers and parliamentarians coming from families -- or with close
links to - having entertainment, construction and transportation