Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Media coverage of Thai riots draws criticism

Protests in Thailand have fizzled out and with it the media coverage. British broadcasters BBC and Sky News which covered the protest by red shirted demonstrators extensively over the past week, gave only scant coverage to the story today. But high tensions remain in the country and there are strong divisions developing amongst the population.

The blogosphere is alive with comments and those in support of the current Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, have been particularly active. Many have left comments on news websites and blogs criticising the media. Impartiality is of particular concern.

Some berated the media for “not reporting the truth.” One insisted that it was not protesters who were killed but instead that “Two annoyed and angried [sic] villagers by destructive rioters' action (who) were shot dead by the red-shirt rioters.” Another writing under the name of Milan says, “PM Abhisit did not even use any violence even when he's almost been killed by the red shirt mob who broke into the Interior Ministry compound, vandalised his car, and beating his security officials. You red shirt mob, if you were in the US, you would probably be history by now. Two people who lost their lives were those who were shot by the red mob during the clash between the residents and this red shirt mob in Nang Lerng market. There they destroyed the shops, carts, and shot the mosque's windows.”

Patriotism was also in much evidence. “I love my country, I love my King, I love my people” said one who left a comment on this blog. “Thaksin has corrupted Thai people for long long time. He cheated Thai people. He tried to sell my country,” he adds.

It is a sentiment repeated by dozens of others. Many posted their comments anonymously but one writing under the name of Paul Cooper said the former prime minister Thaksin “raped Thailand dry once and now he wants to do it again.” Writing on the Sky News website he adds, “The majority of Thais follow the Yellow shirt ideals, it is wrong to suggest Thaksin is popular amongst the poor.”

In a report broadcast on CNN, ITN’s John Ray described the protesters as “outnumbered and outgunned” and that Thaksin Shinawatra remained “popular”. But it is difficult to gauge the true support he may have.

Both the pro-Royalty yellow shirts and the pro-Thaksin red shirts have been vocal in their demonstrations over the last few months. Last year the yellow shirted protesters shut down international flights into the country after they occupied the main airport. Those demonstrations also brought international headlines but the protests ended peacefully. The recent red shirt demonstrations have also brought international press attention, but outside the country there is little understanding as to the dynamics of the situation or the complicated politics of this Asian state.
The protests have left much damage in their wake. At least 120 were injured in the sometimes violent protests and two people have died. There has also been widespread damage to property including a fire which damaged part of the Interior Ministry [CNN]. It remains unclear what will happen over the coming months. But there are some deep wounds that need repairing.


Anonymous said...

CNN.com/asia doesn't understand THai political background. The facts it wrote are mostly wrong "COLOR CODE RED SHIRTS
United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship
Support Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
Makeup Mainly from outside the cities and the poor
Demand More money to combat poverty
The royal color and symbol of the People's Alliance for Democracy
Support Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva
Makeup Monarchists, wealthier Thais
Demand Conservative economics and values and a strong military"
Actually, Demand of yellows are not Conservative economics and values and a strong military. It is corrupted people such as Thaksin must be out!

Anonymous said...

"Support Thai PM Abhisit".

The main cause of all riots and chaos in Thailand is Thanksin Shinawatra. It is amazing how much damage has been done to our country by only a single man. These Red-shirts have been asked to fight for him while he is hiding. He told his supporters that they are using Gandhi’s style for their fighting! Shame for Thailand that so many people are fooled by his speech.

Abhisit is a good and capable man. He has handled the situation as best as one possibly can. Given the situations that these Red-shirts created, they deserve much more severe punishment. Abhisit is just trying to avoid further political division among Thais.