Saturday 27th May, 2017

Bangkok’s Big Brother is watching you

The Guardian - Monday 23rd March, 2015

Cherry, a 27-year-old reporter and talk-show panellist at one of Bangkok's independent TV stations, has discovered firsthand what this means in practical terms. I meet her at her office off a sprawling ringroad, but she has little work to do there, as she has been suspended by her bosses. "I posted a status update on my Facebook page, a kind of inspirational message for women, saying that we should speak out for what we believe even if we have to pay a high price," says Cherry, who, to protect her TV company, can't give her full Thai name. "Underneath I posted a photo of myself at a big anti-coup demonstration." Her bosses saw the update and said they were taking her off air, at least for a while. "They told me they couldn't trust me any more. They were worried I might criticise the military on live TV." The Thai media has never been entirely free; self-censorship about the monarchy and the Buddhist monkhood is practised across the board. But in those cases the parameters of what's allowable are clearly defined (that is, nothing negative at all, although criticism of religion has begun to creep in). Cherry says the junta's "request" that media outlets determine their own limits when reporting on the military government is more damaging. "When they don't draw the line for you, when you have to draw it yourself, it results in paranoia and over-caution. It's the worst kind of silencing." It's also the most insidiously effective because it forces colleagues to police eac...
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