Thailand’s Age of Libel

FRIDAY BUG: T is for trouble in the age of libel - The Nation, July 29, 2005
[Amusing and sobering article about the power Thai corporations have to sue critics for libel.]
After Picnic Corporation filed lawsuits seeking damages of Bt15 billion from newspapers it accuses of libel, experts and the media seem a little less inclined to even mention the names of companies mired in controversy.
...One of the hottest topics was Thai Film Industries Plc, which is also embroiled in a scandal. To keep their feet out of hot water, panellists dubbed the company "T Packaging". TFI is owned by the politically connected Mahagitsiri family, which also owns the controversial Thainox Stainless Plc.
As the seminar continued, however, the use of pseudonyms started confusing the audience and many looked like they were trying to solve riddles in the dark trying to deduce which companies the speakers were talking about.
...And the more explaining he did, the more bewildered the audience grew. Finally, Chalee Chantanayingyong, the Securities and Exchange Commission's assistant secretary-general and one of the speakers, couldn't take it anymore.
Said Chalee curtly: "Let's knock it off. Just say the full name of the company for the sake of understanding."


[2015 note: Like many Thai newspaper articles from the early days of the Thai internet, this article is no longer online. Below is the complete text of the original article.]

FRIDAY BUG: T is for trouble in the age of libel

Published on July 29, 2005

After Picnic Corporation filed lawsuits seeking damages of Bt15 billion from newspapers it accuses of libel, experts and the media seem a little less inclined to even mention the names of companies mired in controversy.

On Wednesday, during a seminar on financial budgeting, stock manipulation and monitoring held jointly by the Par-Patr Institute, Dhurakij Pundit University and Krungthep Thurakit Bizweek newspaper, guest speakers and moderators were so cautious that they made up nicknames for each company.

One of the hottest topics was Thai Film Industries Plc, which is also embroiled in a scandal. To keep their feet out of hot water, panellists dubbed the company “T Packaging”. TFI is owned by the politically connected Mahagitsiri family, which also owns the controversial Thainox Stainless Plc.

As the seminar continued, however, the use of pseudonyms started confusing the audience and many looked like they were trying to solve riddles in the dark trying to deduce which companies the speakers were talking about.

The speakers tried their hardest to set the record straight, but instead they ended up flummoxing the audience even more. But faces really turned into question marks when one of the speakers tried to explain that T Packaging did not refer to Thainox, but rather Thai Film. He said, “T Packaging is not the T company that relates to the action when you are punched in a boxing match.”

And the more explaining he did, the more bewildered the audience grew. Finally, Chalee Chantanayingyong, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s assistant secretary-general and one of the speakers, couldn’t take it anymore.

Said Chalee curtly: “Let’s knock it off. Just say the full name of the company for the sake of understanding.”
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