From the Thai-language press: Thairath editorial: Freedom of the press plummets into a gorge - October 28, 2005
Freedom of the press is one index that measures the
democracy of nations along with an independent judiciary
service, political freedom, and rights such as holding
elections. Every time in the past in surveys, Thailand
is on the top level of Asia following Japan. In the
world survey it is quite high on the middle level.
But recently, the survey Index of the World
Press Freedom from Reporters Without
Border showed that freedom of the press in Thailand
is down abnormally. The ranking fell into a gorge
from the 59th level in 2004 to 107th--this is in a
ranking of 167 countries. Thailand is bested by even
Cambodia (90th) and East Timor (58th).
The survey found that newly democratic countries in
Latin America and Africa have no more freedom of newspapers,
but many countries in Asia are worse. The better countries
are South Korea (34th) and Taiwan (51st ). The best
freedom of press are in rich countries in Europe,
Denmark , Finland, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands,
So it is remarkable that Thailand is poor in freedom
of the press which feel off from last year's level
by 48 places. This is also sad because it happened
under a democratic government and under the constitution
which is praised to be the most democratic and having
no dictatorial passages like in the past.
The foreign organizations who set the level did not
tell the reason why Thailand fell 48 places so we
have to look back the press association which always
watches the freedom of media. It declared that year
2002 was the "year of interfering in media",
year 2003 was year of rounding up media
and year 2004 was year of splitting and destroying
For 2005, Thaksin talked big to foreign reporters
that Thai newspapers have lots off freedom and they
can criticize even the PM. However, the press association
has not yet declared what kind of year 2005 is. The
media may all agree that year 2005 is year that hidden
attempts were made to grab media by buying stock and
controlling the business by unfriendly people--as
in the hope to grab the giant presses of Matichon
group and Bangkok Post.
Freedom of the press is the measure of the nation's
democracy. It is a valuable asset that can be transferred
into immense capital on the political and diplomatic
world stage. Freedom of press came from our earliest
reporters' struggle from the pioneer to the generation
of today. So it is very sad if we finally lose press
freedom in the time of democracy.
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