The accusation about a secret prison and criticism of Matichon

Matichon editorial: The accusation about a secret prison and criticism of Matichon - November 8 2005

Again PM Thaksin Shinawatra blames newspaper that reported news that Washington Post claimed that the CIA built a secret prison for Al-Queda detention in eight countries including Thailand. He accused the newspaper Matichon of taking the story and expanding it. He also said the press must thing of the nation first and not present news that causes damage, bad image, and makes foreign countries misunderstand.

Although this is not the first time that PM Thaksin commented that the press should report less, this time he accused Matichon of taking the story to expand it. This is a serious accusation and cannot be accepted. This accusation means that Matichon had bad attention to its duty although reporting news is a normal duty of mass media which presents the public truth from every side. For the 'secret prison' news, if it is not reported, Thai people will not know there is an accusation that Thailand is one of network for settling by a secret prison for America.

Moreover presenting news of the secret prison does not mean that the Thai press or mass media operators believe in that news. They tried to check the truth and ask for an explanation from Thai government spokesmen from the PM office. We published his explanation at the same time as reporting the Washington Post story to let people know every side of the story so they can decide what to believe. It is a democratic principle that people have the right to information.

It is true that there is much news sifted through society before presentation and it is one of important jobs of mass media to be the “gate of the news.” But this duty must be exercised carefully so as not to become the “father who knows well” and who decides for people what is true and not true. Thus the mass media could not present news as is its duty and at the same time present Thaksin’s words on the matter as true. There are many things Thaksin spoke which are not true such as the explanation of the Muslim lawyer who disappeared because of his family problems, the treasure golden trove at Lijea cave, or the news of buying the Liverpool football team.

It is right that PM Thaksin loves the nation and tries to have others love the nation like him. But if he set his consciousness a little bit, he will find that mass media operators love the nation as well. Thaksin does not have a monopoly on love and thinks that others who do not think or operate the same as him do not love the nation. True love for the nation must be proved by practice--not word only.

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