By Agnes Escobar. After spending much time learning on Thailand and staying up to date with their media outlets, I felt it was time to reach out and have a talk with an actual citizen. I got the opportunity to connect and talk to Erawan Wanwadee. She is a 26 year-old graduate of Thammasat University in Bangkok, that studied Political Science. Wanwadee worked at a Thai NGO and a German government-based development organization. Currently, she is managing her family business and is a part time tutor, as well as beng a contributer to Global Voices. I was able to ask a few questions and get Wanwadee’s opinion.
1) What are the major media outlets? Where do you get your news?
There are a couple of new sites which I look at and use to get most of my Thailand news. Such as www.matichon.co.th , www.bangkokpost.com , Prachatai.com, bangkokbiznews.com , www.nationmultimedia.com . But there are also many other major media outlets that circulate around Thailand, like www.thairath.co.th , www.dailynews.co.th , www.khaosod.co.th .
2) Is there a free press?
These are a couple of medias like prachatai.com that were founded by a group of journalists and activists. For lese majeste law, it has never been the King’s idea, he said himself that people can criticize. Unfortunately, King Bhumibol had been used by politicians for their power abuse since the very beginning. The king also was not granted power to change the law by himself. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that media in Thailand is not free as lese majeste law is harsh, too harsh.
3) What are the most important issues trending in the news?
The main issue that is trending at the moment is the recent death of King’s Bhumibol Adulyadej’s , as well as detailed updates on his funeral. Such as places that are hosting small ceremonies or events to grieve over the lost. Another main news event is the issue on the next King coronation updates. Knowing that the succeeding king has set some time apart from succeeding to the throne, to allow his people to grieve properly. Following these top news is the issue on Yingluck, who is a former Prime Minister of Thailand and the corruption case updates.
4) What is the media not covering?
The media mostly doesn’t cover much news on the crown prince’s life style or on personal affairs. However, there are still people who are skeptical and even anti-royal family due to questions of lese majeste law which prevent media to freely cover news about royal family. There are people who simply do not want monarchy and continue to backslash the royal family, trying to recruit more supporters. Many, I think, not that they do not know about the king’s hard work, but they just disregard it and want political system to be in their favor.
5) What do you want the world to know about your country?
Personally, I’m very uncomfortable to know that some foreigners consider Thai people as being brainwashed or blindfolded and compare us to North Korean people who worship their dictator despite starvation and social insecurities. Our king had really worked hard throughout his reign. His royal projects and inventions are real and touchable. There are people who really benefit from these projects. No prime minister cared this much about the country. I can go on forever about his projects and not only because I hear and watch what the news told me to believe, but because my family and I have witnessed the truth ourselves.
So, what I want the world to know briefly is that lese majeste law is a filthy political game. It is not my king to blame. My king, instead of being compared to North Korean leader, should be regarded as another world-renowned philanthropist just like Mother Teresa, Mandela, Gandhi, etc. He deserves this much love and worship.