10 Years Ago: Aura of fear pervades Thai media

10 Years Ago: Aura of fear pervades Thai media
If Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had hoped, as critics suggested, to scare Thailand’s journalists by filing libel lawsuits that seek more than $12 million in damages from a media group owner and his partner, he has at least partially succeeded.
Senior newspaper editors and publishers plan to gather in a Bangkok hotel Thursday for an emergency meeting called by Thailand’s Press Council to discuss the plight of the media under a government they fear is determined to crush their independence and, in the process, change the country’s political landscape…
…Thailand once boasted of having one of the liveliest and freest media in Asia. A Constitution introduced in 1997 set out to protect the public’s right to know from attempts to interfere with the press by power-hungry generals.
But the election of Thaksin, a billionaire tycoon, in 2001 has presented the Thai media with challenge. In addition to a mass electoral base and a dominance of Parliament that leaves opposition parties little leeway to shape legislation, Thaksin has powerful allies in business. Some say he appears all too willing to deploy his political, financial and legal weapons against the more independent-minded of the Thai press…

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