Suvanabhumi Airport Runway Cracks

Post labour union to push for reporter to be reinstated - Bangkok Post, January 28, 2008
...Mr Sermsuk sued for unfair dismissal. He believed the company was pressured by the then government of prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to sack him, but the court ruled that there was no evidence the company was pressured by the government.
He has appealed the decision.
A large number of cracks have been found in runways at the airport since it opened in September 2006. Many domestic services were re-routed to Don Mueang airport to allow for repairs.

Former "Bangkok Post" editor sees Thai government hand in his dismissal -, September 8, 2005
...Source: Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
Person(s): Sermsuk Kasitipradit
Target(s): editor(s)
Type(s) of violation(s): fired
Urgency: Bulletin
(SEAPA/IFEX) - A senior editor who was sacked by the "Bangkok Post" newspaper over a flawed report about alleged cracks in the runway of Thailand's new international airport, said his dismissal was a result of the government's interference in the newspaper's editorial policy, an act he says can threaten the independence of the entire Thai press...
"After reviewing the situation again and again, I find that this is not an ordinary situation. Our sacking is the result of influence from outside - from a major shareholder and the government," he was quoted by "The Nation" newspaper as saying in its 4 September issue...

The Post fights back - August 19, 2005
Media groups decry legal blitz on 'Post' - Bangkok Post, August 18, 2005:
...On the home front, The Nation questioned the merit of the government filing suit. ''The staggering legal offensive by the Thaksin government is bad news for the entire media community,'' wrote its editor Tulsathit Taptim on the opinion page in an article entitled ''Libel Suits Being Used to Intimidate''.
He went on to ask: ''Should false alarms keep ringing, or does everyone prefer the silence unless the real fire breaks out?''
Thai Day newspaper, meanwhile, said in its commentary ''No Cracks Does Not Mean There Is No Corruption'' on Wednesday that the press was only doing its job as a watchdog.
The writer of the commentary, Xiang Xao Long, a pseudonym, said he took the side of the press ''not because I want to ruin Thaksin's reputation or that of his government, but because I'm opposed to corruption, particularly in mega-projects like Suvarnabhumi airport.''

Post reparations - August 18, 2005
Concerning the government demands of the Bangkok Post over the 'fabricated story': They demand that the verdict be published in a full-page advertisement in a top-selling foreign newspaper in each country and aired on global television networks, such as CNBC, CCTV and BBC for one hour per day.
Cormac has a humorous observation about the rather extreme demands: Since commercial networks only have advertising slots of 5-15 minutes per hour, it will be interesting to see how they manage this. Especially if they really do mean BBC (not BBC World), which has never accepted advertising of any kind.
I estimate the cost of the remaining newspaper adverts at 3 billion baht, which coincidentally is the approximate market value of Post Publishing. It would also add around 5% to Thailand's monthly trade deficit.

STOPPAGE TIME: Libel suits being used to intimidate - The Nation, August 17, 2005
...To begin with, Suvarnabhumi is one of the world's most scandalous airport projects. All reporters can testify that new allegations surface on virtually a daily basis. The biggest one, of course, concerns the purchase of the CTX bomb-scanning machines, an issue that has yet to go away despite obvious state attempts to sweep it under the carpet. Naturally, journalists have been keeping an eye on the airport.
...Last but not least, should taxpayers sue Airports of Thailand and New Bangkok International Airport over the CTX scandal? Should taxpayers be asked which is more damaging to their interests and Thailand's image - the CTX bribery allegations or the runway "cracks" report, which was immediately retracted?...

AIRPORT 'CRACKS' ROW: Govt may sue over runway report - The Nation, August 12, 2005

A tale of two newspapers: Airport cracks and the 'fabricated news report' - August 11, 2005
...The legal threat is a new wave of apparent political pressure that has hit the Bangkok Post over the past few years. The paper is largely owned by the Central Group, which had a showdown with the Transport Ministry over a land-lease contract for its Lat Phrao shopping complex in 2002. The contract extension remains a contentious issue to this day.
Also in 2002, the Central Group fought off a takeover bid by a group of shareholders led by a business figure, a bitter battle that many Bangkok Post reporters thought stemmed from attempted political interference.
Early last year, Bangkok Post reporters decried the murky transfer of its editor Veera Prateep-chaikul, who was known to have been under pressure from the management following news reports critical of the prime minister...

A tale of two newspapers: Airport cracks and the 'fabricated news report' - August 11, 2005
Someone at the Post must have really gotten into trouble for their August 9 report, 'US experts insist runways cracked' (Bangkok Post, August 9, 2005): ...A team of US aviation experts is insisting that both runways at Suvarnabhumi airport need reconstruction as there are severe cracks that are large enough to sink the nose wheel of an aircraft, according to an aviation source... (The article has already been removed from the Post website)

TNA responds with this oddly entitled article:
Government spokesman to be responsible for misinformation to media - TNA, August 10, 2005
...For instance, Mr Thaksin said, the fabricated news report in an English-language newspaper that a US engineer had quietly checked the cracked runways had damaged Thailand's reputation in the eyes of the world community that some persons might not visit Thailand because of their concern about such report...

The next day the Post is apologizing for its story on the airport cracks while The Nation keeps the heat on.
Correction - Bangkok Post, August 10, 2005
A press tour of the West Runway of Suvarnabhumi airport yesterday found no cracks in the middle of the runway as earlier reported by the Bangkok Post. There were small cracks on the shoulders near the touch-down points.
These may have been mistaken by the source for serious cracks on the main runway.
The Bangkok Post apologises for any inconvenience this report may have caused to all parties concerned.

Authorities deny big runway cracks - Bangkok Post, August 10, 2005
...At Government House yesterday, Transport Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal confirmed that there were only cracks on runway shoulders that engineers had made to fill with asphalt to prevent cracks in the concrete runway surface when adjoining new taxi-ways are built in the future.
The transport minister also quoted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as denying in the cabinet meeting yesterday that he had invited a team of US experts to examine any cracks on the runways of the new airport.
The report about serious cracks was untrue and New Bangkok International Airport Co (NBIA) would check where the report came from, Mr Pongsak said.
"Rumours are released to make foreigners lose confidence in our airport. As our airport is close to completion, rumours are released to delay the airport,'' said the minister...

HOT ISSUE: Airport wrinkles grow - The Nation, August 10, 2005
...Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Deputy Prime Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit and Deputy Transport Minister General Chaiyanan Charoensiri tried to convince the public that the cracks on the runway shoulders are not accidental but connection points to accommodate expansion. But the runways allegedly have other serious cracks - ones which reporters haven't seen - and they could force reconstruction of the two runways...

STREET WISE: Runway crack sprouts worries - The Nation, August 10, 2005
...This is what Transport Minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisal said he has concerns about. In an interview yesterday, he said the ministry was trying to find the person who ran his mouth off about the crack.
He also squawked that the culprit must have wanted to delay the airport's construction, which would not a patriotic act at all.
It all sounded rather strange, though. Why does Pongsak need to identify the person? Wouldn't it be more useful if he could convince the public that the crack was intentional and was part of preparatory work for a third runway?...

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