Privy Councillor Prem accuses Thaksin of employing “double standards”

Each day since the story of Prem's 'plea' or 'accusation' (depending on whether you read the Post or Nation), the Post has run a story with the government's response.

Thaksin sounds off at reporters
- Bangkok Post, July 12, 2005
...Mr Thaksin said privy councillor and statesman Prem Tinsulanonda was the latest victim of media distortion.
Gen Prem's speech, delivered at the National Institution of Development Administration, was ``systematically twisted'' when it was published in newspapers, he said. Gen Prem also shared his thoughts on good governance.
...Personally, he said, he did not care about incorrect news reports, but it damaged the country's image as a whole...


[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.]

Thaksin sounds off at reporters

Prime Minister accosts journalists, insisting they distort his quotes

The Bangkok Post
Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Newspaper reporters yesterday incurred the wrath of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who accused them of putting words in his mouth, making factual errors and hurting the country's reputation.

''You won't fool me. Whatever I say you find ways to distort,'' he told an army of reporters at Government House.

Mr Thaksin said privy councillor and statesman Prem Tinsulanonda was the latest victim of media distortion.

Gen Prem's speech, delivered at the National Institution of Development Administration, was ''systematically twisted'' when it was published in newspapers, he said. Gen Prem also shared his thoughts on good governance.

In an angry mood, Mr Thaksin refused to answer reporters' questions about other government affairs, choosing instead to criticise those asking the questions. He said distorted news reports had spoiled the atmosphere and the media must think hard about the purpose false statements served.

''I want the media to think it over carefully. If they want to be manipulated as tools or create a fantasy, it won't make anyone any better off,'' Mr Thaksin said.

Personally, he said, he did not care about incorrect news reports, but it damaged the country's image as a whole.

Attempts later by reporters to interview Mr Thaksin were also turned down. He said he would rather speak into TV cameras to ensure people heard him correctly.

Meanwhile, the Thai Journalists Association issued an open letter refuting Mr Thaksin's comments, saying they were empty accusations.

The association said the press had reported news straightforwardly only to face government criticism with issues unfavourable to its popularity rating.

Published: Tuesday, July 12, 2005


PM agrees with Gen Prem - Bangkok Post, July 11, 2005
...Mr Suranand was referring to remarks made on Saturday by Gen Prem, who said the government should keep a clear conscience.Gen Prem, also the Privy Council president, said the government would not be genuinely good in governance if it merely observed the law but still flouted ethical and moral principles.
...Regarding Gen Prem's remark about self-centred administrators and conflict of interest, Mr Suranand said the fact is Mr Thaksin had realised the importance of creating a new political culture but this cannot be achieved overnight.At this stage, new and old styles of politics still mingled and the government needed time to achieve clean and transparent politics, he said.
Mr Suranand denied Gen Prem was sending a signal to warn the government not to misuse power.


[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.]

PM agrees with Gen Prem

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra shares similar opinions with statesman Gen Prem Tinsulanonda in several matters and is trying to create a new political culture based on a clean and transparent government, PM's Office Minister Suranand Vejjajiva said yesterday.Mr Suranand was referring to remarks made on Saturday by Gen Prem, who said the government should keep a clear conscience.Gen Prem, also the Privy Council president, said the government would not be genuinely good in governance if it merely observed the law but still flouted ethical and moral principles.Mr Suranand said the government would always lend an ear to the statesman and former prime minister who was highly experienced in various fields.``The government always listens to him. In fact, the government shares the same opinions with Gen Prem in several matters, especially the fact that there were still some major problems that had not been attended to. He is a senior figure advising the government what should be done. ``This should not be taken as a conflict of opinion as Gen Prem was putting the interests of the country at heart,'' he said. Regarding Gen Prem's remark about self-centred administrators and conflict of interest, Mr Suranand said the fact is Mr Thaksin had realised the importance of creating a new political culture but this cannot be achieved overnight.At this stage, new and old styles of politics still mingled and the government needed time to achieve clean and transparent politics, he said.Mr Suranand denied Gen Prem was sending a signal to warn the government not to misuse power.

A tale of two newspapers: Prem's 'accusation' - July 11, 2005
Depending on which newspaper you read, Prem's speech was either a warning to Thaksin that his government might end prematurely because of rampant corruption or a general talk about accountability that did not mention the Prime Minister directly.

Both papers also carry comments from social critic Sombat, but the Post again generalizes these without a direct reference to the PM. The Nation, on the other hand, quotes Sombat calling Thaskin a dictator and warning that a Philippines-style people-power revolution could overthrow him.

The Post reserves some of Sombat's criticism in a separate article (PM 'running out of ideas' that sell - Admits cabinet recruits hard to find, Bangkok Post, July 10, 2005), but it is decidedly weaker than what The Nation published.

A key part of The Nation's article is criticism by both Prem and Sombat of the handling of the problems in the South. The Post omits any mention of government policy in the South.

Reuters also reports this story (Thaksin criticised by respected former Thai PM, Reuters, July 10, 2005) as Prem criticizing Thaksin for his handling of the South and notes it "was the strongest directed at the government since it took office in 2001."

Prem urges govt to keep conscience - Rule of law, ethics must go hand in hand - Bangkok Post, July 10, 2005
Statesman Gen Prem Tinsulanonda has pleaded with the government to keep a clear conscience, saying it is not genuinely committed to good governance if it merely observes the law but still flouts ethical and moral principles.
..."In other countries, accountability, transparency, participation and predictability are part and parcel of good governance. In Thailand, we must also add moral and ethical principles,'' he said.
Gen Prem said that under unethical leaders, administration of the state would fail, adding the seven qualities government leaders must have were honesty, legitimacy, fairness, efficiency, transparency, good values and embody the security of the state.
..."The law bars one doing something, but is not applied to one's family, siblings and relatives,'' he said.
...In a seminar that followed, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, of the faculty of public administration, presented political reform ideas which included direct elections for prime minister.
Mr Sombat said the strongest elected civilian government did not guarantee transparency and a government with stability could still be plagued with corruption, causing public trust and faith to erode.
...Direct elections for prime minister would make vote-buying more difficult. Candidates also would not have to "invest'' in contestants vying for House seats because they would not need them to get elected so they could vote them to Government House.
Prem hits out at govt for 'doublestandards' - The Nation, July 10, 2005
Privy Councillor General Prem Tinsulanonda yesterday accused the government of employing "double standards" in running the country and criticised its handling of the violence in the South, which he said would be prolonged indefinitely unless a new course was taken.
...Prem also warned the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to curb rampant corruption or face being removed from office before its term ended.
He accused the government of using "double standards", one for "family and friends" and another for the rest of the country.
Another speaker, Sombat Thamrongthatwong, a Nida academic, said the violence in the Muslim-majority South was being prolonged not only by the government's leadership and strategy but the mind set of officials on the ground as well.
...He said the current government had too much power over the Parliament and that the prime minister had virtual absolute control over MPs in just about every aspect of governance.
...Sombat said it was an open secret that the government dominated the Senate and that at least half of the senators sided with the government, "although no senator would admit the truth".
He described Thaksin as "a dictator" whose power was legitimised by a general election.
...The fact that more than 300 MPs voted in support of Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit in the no-confidence debate, he said, does not mean the government's credibility is intact.
"If the people lose faith in the government's ability to run the country, they will stage an uprising to overthrow it," he said, pointing to the example of the Philippines.
Earlier: A tale of two newspapers: Privy Councillor Prem "rebukes" Thaksin
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