Somchai, A Major Shareholder of Lies
( Last edit 2009-03-14 )
Somchai Wongsawat, A Major Shareholder of Lies in Samak's Cabinet
A Joint Statement of Media Professional Organisations on the Government’s Declaration of State of Emergency
We refer to Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej’s declaration on the enforcement of the Royal Decree on the Public Administration in Emergency Situations (2005) which imposes many restrictions on civil rights and liberty, guaranteed under the 2007 Constitution.
We, The Press Council of Thailand, Confederation of Thai Journalists, Thai Journalists Association, Thai Broadcast Journalists Association and Association of Thai Cable TV had a meeting and agreed on the following
1. The media professional groups disagree with the prime minister’s action because the 2005 Decree is not enacted in according with the principle of the rules of law and it has contents that clearly contradict to the provisions under the current Constitution. Besides, the process in which this law is enacted is considered unusual, short-cut and single-handedly aimed at restricting rights and liberty of the Thai people.
2. Although the decree authorizes a prime minister to declare state of emergency, the rationale and background behind the Prime Minister’s decision are far from reasonable. As it stands now, the disturbance (the clashes between pro and anti-government demonstrators) is suppressed and the current situation is under control of authorities concerned. Therefore, the declaration of the state of emergency is unnecessary and shall be revoked immediately.
3. It is evident to all the media people who witnessed the incident on the night of September 1, and from the press statement given by a deputy government spokesman that key leaders of Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (pro-government demonstrators) as well as some ministers from the government party (People Power party) have played an important role in inciting pro-government protesters to use violence against People’s Alliance for Democracy (anti-government demonstrators) which resulted in the loss of life and people’s property. This act is clearly an attempt to dampen the situation and use it as a pretext to declare the state of emergency.
We, therefore, condemn this act.
4. Part of the contents in the declaration of the state of emergency (based on Article 9 of the 2005 Decree) say the government is authorized to order a chief of a state of emergency committee to “prohibit reporting, selling and distributing of newspapers, publications and other forms of media that may cause panic among the public or have the intention to misinform that they may cause the public to misunderstand the state of emergency to the effect that it threatens national security or law and order and or good moral of the people”. This restriction clearly violates the media freedom to inform in accordance with Article 45 of the Constitution.
Besides, this declaration of state of emergency also attacks on the public rights to information which may lead to an escalation of the situation that has been a case in many incidents in the past history of Thai politics during which the media was stripped of their right to inform.
5. We urge all sides to exercise a great tolerance and avoid using violation in any forms or trying to incite the public to use violence against each other, either by means of statements issued by the prime minister and bureaucrats concerned, by announcement of the demonstration leaders or by the use of state media as a tool to solely promote the government’s agenda.
6. In the critical stage of the conflicts that lead to the declaration of the state of emergency in which the power to suppress the disturbance is passed on to the army, we urge the army chief to exercise power with great caution, not to be used as a tool of any group or exploit the situation to stage a coup d’tat in order to seize power. The past lesson confirms that the coup cannot address the conflicts but only serves to worsen it.
We are confident that this national crisis can still be resolved through a peaceful process and especially now that several civil groups in the society have stepped in and vigorously try to find the way out of this political crisis. All the media organizations which have the duty to report on facts and information shall, therefore, strictly adhere to their professional ethics by reporting in comprehensive manner, without being influenced by any party. Only then the people shall be able make the right judgment on the current political situation.
2 September 2008
The Press Council of Thailand
Confederation of Thai Journalists,
Thai Journalists Association,
Thai Broadcast Journalists Association
Association of Thai Cable TV
Somchai Wongsawat, brother-in-law of Thaksin, was a deputy Prime Minister in Samak's cabinet when Samak declared the conspired State of Emergency.