Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Don't Blame Dan Rivers

I have been composing a long, day by day account of the "troubles" of the last three days, which I have not yet posted.  The reason is that I've been getting a lot of mail asking me to explain "the truth" to people overseas.  A lot of people here are astonished and appalled at the level of irresponsibility and inaccuracy shown by such major news sources as CNN, and are imputing the most astonishing motives to this, such as suggesting that they're in the pay of Thaksin and so on.

I don't think this is really what is going on.  Rather, I think that there are two basic problems: preconception and language.

CNN first became a force to be reckoned with during the "People Power" movement in the Philippines.  The kind of coverage we had for this was amazing.  There was a camera in every camp, and we could follow this exciting revolution every step of the way.  We knew exactly who to root for: the oppressed masses led by the widow of the iconic Aquino, and we knew that whenever President Marcos appeared he was Darth Vader, the symbol of an evil empire.  The arc of the story was simple and inexorable.  A whole new way of looking at the news was born, with all the excitement of a TV miniseries and, prophetically, a reality show as well.

Of course, many of the little details of the story were conveniently glossed over.  Reality was not — never is — so black and white.  But there are three important things about this story: first, in its essentials, there was a lot of truth.  And all the protagonists spoke English.

The Philippines, as Filipinos never tire of telling me, is the third most populous English speaking country in the world.  We will leave the definition of "English-speaking" to another blog, but it's very important that the various sides in this conflict were able to articulate their viewpoints in a language which CNN well understood.

The third important thing about the story is that it fulfilled a vision of history that is an inseparable part of the inheritance of western culture, that is so ingrained in western thinking that it is virtually impossible for an educated member of western society to divorce himself from it.

It is a vision of history as a series of liberations.  From Harmodius and Aristogeiton throwing off the tyrant's yoke to the removal of the Tarquins and the establishment of the Roman Republic to the failed rebellion of Spartacus, from Magna Carta to the Bastille to the American Civil War to the Russian Revolution, there is this Platonic Model against which these big historical movements are always compared.  There is a bad guy — often a dictator — who can be demonized.  There is a struggling proletariat.  The end comes with "liberty and justice for all".  This is Star Wars.   The dark times.  The Empire.

The "People Power" coverage was riveting, compelling, and contained all the emotional components of this mythical story arc.  Finding another such story, therefore, is a kind of Holy Grail for the international media.  When a story comes that appears to contain some of the elements, and it's too much hard work to verify those elements or get all the background detail, you go with the Great Archetype of Western Civilization.

Now, let us consider the redshirt conflict.

Let's not consider what has actually been happening in Thailand, but how it looks to someone whose worldview has been coloured with this particular view of history.

Let's consider the fact that there is pretty much nothing being explained in English, and that there are perhaps a dozen foreigners who really understand Thai thoroughly.  I don't mean Thai for shopping, bargirls, casual conversation and the like.   Thai is a highly ambiguous language and is particularly well suited for seeming to say opposite things simultaneously.  To get what is really being said takes total immersion.

When you watch a red shirt rally, notice how many English signs and placards there are, and note that they they are designed to show that these are events conforming to the archetype. The placards say "Democracy", "No Violence," "Stop killing innocent women and children" and so on.  Speakers are passionately orating, crowds are moved.  But there are no subtitles.  What does it look like?

The answer is obvious.  It looks like oppressed masses demanding freedom from an evil dictator.

Don't blame Dan Rivers, et al, who are only doing what they are paid to do: find the compelling story within the mass of incomprehensible data, match that story to what the audience already knows and believes, and make sure the advertising money keeps flowing in.

A vigorous counter-propaganda campaign in clear and simple English words of one syllable has always been lacking and is the reason the government is losing the PR war while actually following the most logical steps toward a real and lasting resolution.

If the foreign press were in fact able to speak Thai well enough to follow all the reportage here coming from all sides, they would also be including some of the following information in their reports.  I want to insist yet again that I am not siding with anyone.  The following is just information that people really need before they write their news reports.

-- Thaksin was democratically elected, but became increasingly undemocratic, and the country gradually devolved from a nation where oligarchs skimmed off the top to a kleptocracy of one.  During his watch, thousands of people were summarily executed in the South of Thailand and in a bizarre "war on drugs" in which body count was considered a marker of success.

-- the coup that ousted Thaksin was of course completely illegal, but none of the people who carried it out are in the present government.

-- the yellow shirts' greatest error in moulding its international image was to elevate Thaksin's corruption as its major bone of contention.  Thai governments have always been corrupt.  The extent of corruption and the fact that much of it went into only one pocket was shocking to Thais, but the west views all "second-rate countries" as being corrupt.  Had they used the human rights violations and muzzling of the press as their key talking points, the "heroic revolution" archetype would have been moulded with opposite protagonists, and CNN and BBC would be telling an opposite story today.

-- the constitution which was approved by a referendum after the coup and which brought back democracy was flawed, but it provided more checks and balances, and made election fraud a truly accountable offense for the first time.

-- the parliamentary process by which the Democrat coalition came to power was the same process by which the Lib Dems and Tories have attained power in Britain.  The parliament that voted in this government consists entirely of democratically elected members.

-- no one ever disputed the red shirts' right to peaceful assembly, and the government went out of its way to accede to their demands.

-- this country already has democracy.  Not a perfect one, but the idea of "demanding democracry" is sheer fantasy

-- the yellow shirts did not succeed in getting any of their demands from the government. The last two governments changed because key figures were shown to have committed election fraud.  They simply did not take their own constitution seriously enough to follow it.

-- the red TV station has a perfect right to exist, but if foreign journalists actually understood Thai, they would realize that much of its content went far beyond any constitutionally acceptable limits of "protected speech" in a western democracy.  Every civilized society limits speech when it actually harms others, whether by inciting hate or by slander.  The government may have been wrong to brusquely pull the plug, but was certainly right to cry foul.  It should have sought an injunction first.  Example: Arisman threatened to destroy mosques, government buildings, and "all institutions you hold sacred" ... a clip widely seen on youtube, without subtitles.  Without subtitles, it looks like "liberty, equality, fraternity".  

-- the army hasn't been shooting women and children ... or indeed anyone at all, except in self-defense.  Otherwise this would all be over, wouldn't it?  It's simple for a big army to mow down 5,000 defenseless people.  

-- since the government called the red shirts' bluff and allowed the deputy P.M. to report to the authorities to hear their accusations, the red leaders have been making ever-more fanciful demands.  The idea of UN intervention is patently absurd.  When Thaksin killed all those Muslims and alleged drug lords, human rights groups asked the UN to intervene.  When the army took over the entire country, some asked the UN to intervene.  The UN doesn't intervene in the internal affairs of sovereign countries except when requested to by the country itself or when the government has completely broken down.  

-- Thailand hasn't had an unbreachable gulf between rich and poor for at least 20 years.  These conflicts are about the rise of the middle class, not the war between the aristocrats and the proletariat.  

-- Abhisit, with his thoroughly western and somewhat liberal background, shares the values of the west and is in fact more likely to bring about the social revolution needed by Thailand's agrarian poor than any previous leader.  He is, in fact, pretty red, while Thaksin, in his autocratic style of leadership, is in a way pretty yellow.  Simplistic portrayals do not help anyone to understand anything.

-- the only people who do not seem to care about the reds' actual grievances are their own leaders, who are basically making everyone risk their lives to see if they can get bail.

-- the King has said all that he is constitutionally able to say when he spoke to the supreme court justices and urged them to do their duty.   The western press never seem to realize that the Thai monarchy is constitutionally on the European model ... not, say, the Saudi model. The king REIGNS ... he doesn't "rule".  This is a democracy.  The king is supposed to symbolize all the people, not a special interest group.

The above are just a few of the elements that needed to be sorted through in order to provide a balanced view of what is happening in this country.

There is one final element that must be mentioned.  Most are not even aware of it.  But there is, in the western mindset, a deeply ingrained sense of the moral superiority of western culture which carries with it the idea that a third world country must by its very nature be ruled by despots, oppress peasants, and kill and torture people.  Most westerners become very insulted when this is pointed out to them because our deepest prejudices are always those of which we are least aware.  I believe that there is a streak of this crypto-racism in some of the reportage we are seeing in the west.  It is because of this that Baghdad, Yangon, and Bangkok are being treated as the same thing.  We all look alike.

Yes, this opinion is always greeted with outrage.  I do my best to face my own preconceptions and don't succeed that often, but I acknowledge they exist nonetheless.

Some of the foreign press are painting the endgame as the Alamo, but it is not.  It is a lot closer to Jonestown or Waco.

Like those latter two cases, a highly charismatic leader figure (in our case operating from a distance, shopping in Paris while his minions sweat in the 94°weather) has taken an inspirational idea: in one case Christianity, in the other democracy, and reinvented it so that mainstream Christians, or real democrats, can no longer recognize it.  The followers are trapped.  There is a siege mentality and information coming from outside is screened so that those trapped believe they will be killed if they try to leave.  Women and children are being told that they are in danger if they fall into the hands of the government, and to distrust the medics and NGOs waiting to help them.  There are outraged pronouncements that they're not in fact using the children as human shields, but that the parents brought them willingly to "entertain and thrill" them. There is mounting paranoia coupled with delusions of grandeur, so that the little red kingdom feels it has the right to summon the United Nations, just like any other sovereign state.   The reporters in Rajprasong who are attached to the red community are as susceptible to this variant of the Stockholm syndrome as anyone else.  

The international press must separate out the very real problems that the rural areas of Thailand face, which will take decades to fix, from the fact that a mob is rampaging through Bangkok, burning, looting, and firing grenades, threatening in the name of democracy to destroy what democracy yet remains in this country.

But this bad reporting is not their fault.  It is our fault for not providing the facts in bite-sized pieces, in the right language, at the right time. 


  1. THe fact that Dan Rivers has resided in Thailand long enough to understand all those that you wrote but still report the way he did, irks me to no end!!!

  2. You are on the money again. I agree totally.

    Mind you, I am sure the farang serial airchair columnists that hog the Nations blogs will slag you off. It seems to be what they are mostly good at.

    Thank you for pointing out some home truths.

  3. ขอบคุณคุณสมเถาสำหรับสิ่งที่คุณเขียนนี้

  4. ... If Dan River's not competent enough to understand Thai culture and language, then CNN should send a substitute. Period.


  5. Interesting read Somtow. I don't agree with your last sentence though. Bad reporting is their fault. They should do better research - it isn't difficult and there is a plethora of excellent unbiased resources in English all about recent Thai history and the current Thai political situation. If they were conducting proper research - actual reporting, in other words - then groups like the following (4000 members and counting!) wouldn't exist:


    Thanks again!

  6. Very perceptive. But even without a 'total immersion' in the Thai language to better understand the situation reporters owe their readers a more balanced and unbiased view. Today's reporters are biased and closed minded.

  7. Nope. It's Dan Rivers fault for not doing enough research before writing. Look at Al Jazeera reporters, they all know what's going on in Thailand well.

  8. Good reporters must try their best to dig deep and understand all sides of information, before make a report.

  9. i think there's no excuses when you're a news reporter and supposed to Report the situation Right. You're not specialized, then you're not suppose to be sent here to "retrieve" the news, in a very common-sense way.

    let's face it, that at least I am sure that Dan Rivers understands something, money, yet I am sure it's not my Country.

    ไม่ง่ายไปหน่อยเหรอครับ ในฐานะนักข่าวเรามีจรรยาบรรณโดยวิชาชีพอยู่แล้วที่ต้องรายงาน "ข้อเท็จจริง" ไม่ใช่การเดาสุ่ม ถ้าไม่มีความรู้ความเข้าใจ ก็ไม่สมควรถูกส่งมาเพื่อ "เก็บ" ข่าว เรื่องโคตรจะสามัญสำนึกเลยครับ

    แต่ผมว่าแดน ริเวอร์ส รู้และเข้าใจบางอย่างเหมือนกันนะ เงินไง แต่ที่แน่ๆ มันไม่รู้จักประเทศของผม ประเทศไทย

  10. ขอบคุณค่้ะสำหรับข้อเขียนยาวๆที่เต็มไปด้วย "ความจริง" บางด้านที่เราหลายคนอาจมองไม่เห็น และนึกไม่ถึง

  11. Thanks for the very precise and well-balanced facts which foreigners should have realized gradually; not overwhelmingly distorted by the receent superficial incidents.

  12. Dear Khun Somtow,

    Thank you for writing such a great topic. Please allow me to share this with my network.

    Thank you and best regards,


  13. Oh my god thank you. As a Thai person frustrated with how all the local and foreign media performs, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this piece of articulate piece of writing.

  14. Wow...so well explained. Being Thai who have no choice but forced to observed for a while...I fully agree with you! Thanks for putting it up.

  15. Dan Rivers intends to distort the truth. He has been here long enough to know what has been going on and does not have any excuse for his shameless report. Rivers is real mean.

  16. If you say 'don't blaim Dan Rivers', that means "it is ok to have an incomplete information & news of Thailand to the world". If DAn River is not capable enough to understand about the situation, language, and culture of Thailand, he should be assigned to do this job in the first place. See other news channels - they can do it well.

  17. As an Englishman, it's pretty embarassing for me that Al Jazeera's coverage of international affairs is much more balanced and informative now than the BBC which for years was the yardstick for quality of reporting. These days they send more and more inexperienced people with no idea of the situation to write simplistic pieces about something they don't even try to understand. And it's not about money with the BBC as you know. It's just incompetence.

  18. Chapeau to you, Mr. Somtow!
    You spoke my mind and are very right about this ingrained 'moral superiority' attitude. This is perhaps what Edward Said called 'modern Orientalism' but you've managed to explain this very well without mentioning the word. I'm so sick of many farangs trying to glorify this protest as a peasant/proliteriat uprising--so totally romanticising it! You can't simply do this when a lot of dirty money is involved!

  19. Well done and one of the best opinion from a Thai.Really irritates me to listen to CNN and the poor reporting.

  20. wow, I hope you could send this to to this reporter so he gets the feeling of what's going on:


    And other news outlets such as Al Jazeera who are not totally impartial as none of us are, but they are in a better position to air a more comprehensive view of the situation.

    This is a great work! Something that I didn't understand before it happened to my country! After all CNN is and other news outlets are subject to their own kind of prejudices!

  21. Now, what about columnists like Khun Somtow (or was that Somtam?), who are so resistent to using their heads for information gathering and analysis, not to mention reflection (yes, there really is such a thing!) that one wonders how come that he is still confident of publishing his text. Or is it merely that blissful ignorance saves one the headache of intellectual work?

  22. Thank you very much Khun Somtow. Your post has at least made my day.

  23. Good article , dont agree with summary , I think the problem of Dan Rivers and his colleagues (BBC, ABC , ) stems from laziness. It is too easy to zip down to Red land, have a cool drink, get the latest take on things, send it off and job done.

    As some others have said ,if he cannot speak Thai well enough , take someone who can , talk to the Army commander, the police and most importantly a good cross section of people to understand why no body like the violence , 51% support AV

  24. ขอขอบคุณ คุณสมเภา ที่ชี้แจงข้อเท็จจริงทุกแง่มุม ให้สื่อ/ชาวต่างชาติทราบ

  25. There is another possibility.... that CNN or whichever media does understand Thailand and yet - imagine! - reaches a different conclusion from you.

    Impossible. Foreigners can never understand Thailand. So mysterious and Other

  26. A lucid and compelling analysis. As a "farang" who has lived and worked in Thailand for 11 years, I agree in particular with the reference to the western mindset as a partial explanation of the quality of reporting in the West. I'll be sending this article to my friends overseas, whose only source of (mis)information has been the visiting western media. Thank you.

  27. great article and I like your books too..

    "Imagine" John Lennon

  28. Thank you for your insights, beautifully written and erudite.

    The world's press is slowly catching up on the situation here and their attitude towards it is changing rapidly but i must say that it is because of people like you who view this situation with intelligence and balance.

    You have my respect

  29. Really appreciate that you are spending time writing this post.

  30. Great piece! The language and cultural issues are indeed a serious stumbling point! I appreciate your take on the situation. I've been passing your tweets on to other friends who know that the news coverage is flawed. Stay safe!

  31. gosh this is such a poor excuse. dont tell me CNN cant afford for a professional translator to do the job right??

  32. I just want to interject one thing. This is article isn't about my opinions, or my conclusions. Just about a few pieces of the equation that seem to be missing in much of the rather superficial coverage we see.

    I've only talked about my personal opinions about this in one of these blogs. I think it's the one titled "Stereotypes."

    And although the title of this episode is "Don't Blame Dan Rivers," it is not without irony.

  33. To me, the most important factor leading to this mess is the failure of the government to counter-propaganda against the surge of thousands of community radios plus dozens of cable and sattellite TVs backed by the Internet. The Red Shirts have experts in using these tools. They were allowed to run free with their lies for many years that effectively brainwashed millions of people who don't have alternative sources of news. Information warfare was on full steam against Thai government both inside and outside the country and this government was clueless until it was too late!!!

  34. You can replace "Dan Rivers" in the above with "Farang in general" - it still makes perfect sense. (yes, he's a farang in general, not professional journalist).

    I'm working in a global environment with lots of farangs and and I'm to blame for being too lazy to 'educate' them using easy language at the right time. I just say go watch Al Jazeera, CNN is full of cr*p, and BBC is bearable, etc. but hardly explain why I think so.

    Btw, well-written and thanks for the effort.

  35. As we are in Globalisation now, no longer just in international or multinational world, if sending expatriate cannot achieve the best result (in this case the truth news), CNN should consider call Dan back & hire capable native-speaking local instead! Better result, Lower cost. Then, do not need to sell more ads.

  36. The irony in the title speaks for what lies between the lines. I wouldn't have gotton the joke if u hadn't pointed it out haha. Good one.

  37. ขอบคุณค่ะ กำลังคิดว่าจะอธิบายสถานการณ์ให้เพื่อนต่างชาติฟังอย่างไรดี ถ้าเพื่อนๆ ได้อ่านบทความนี้ก็น่าจะเข้าใจได้มากขึ้น ...กิ๊ปค่ะ

  38. First: Neither pro or against - but observing.

    Secondly: Using English signs to draw attention was a similar ”strategy” used by the PAD . As we understand it, the reds thinks that the whole country and all institutions are “corrupted” or controlled by the same person(s) so it does makes sense that they are seeking external (foreign) help if they think they cannot trust the local institutions doesn’t it?

    Now about the foreign media.

    Language: They use local stringers and translators. Secondly - and not trying to judge anyone, but I think most spoken language or dialect among the red shirts would be Isaan and not “Thai” as you write – if we are talking about “understanding” what people are talking about when not asked during an interview, thus wondering if the Bangkok journalists understand anything that is spoken?

    Now there is a fundamental difference between media in the US/EU and Thailand = Freedom and responsibility. I am not saying that they live up to this always (E.g. Fox News) but especially in crises stories you have another set of values that you use. You don’t need to make the story “interesting” because it already is – you could actually show it without narration and it would still be interesting – perhaps even more.

    The use of images/video is the fundamental difference between foreign and Thai media. Foreign media use more effort on telling the story in pictures than the Thai media who instead set their story before going out to shoot it, thus looking for images and interviews that can suit the story “they made”. They then speak the whole story and afterwards someone will put a couple of images on the piece = talk from start to end and even/often over images of someone else talking.

    When CNN made a piece of people on the sidewalk getting shot at – all Dan Rivers had to do was set the scene at the beginning, and then let the story and sound tell the rest… TV journalism “ABC”.

    If this was done by a Thai TV crew it would have been with talk over the images perhaps a slow motion and then a person in the frame holding a microphone talking even more. What do you believe most?

    There is a third fundamental difference – foreign news don’t need to have their piece controlled and viewed by a censor board or delaying the broadcast for a couple of seconds (so the censor can cut to black) before they air their piece.

    If we have to talked about news “distorted” in Thailand let look at The Nation newspaper.
    Endless times do we see stories that says: “according to a official who did not wanted his name mentioned…” So if you do a story like that, is it really a story? Or is it just someone’s imagination?

    Have you seen any editor here that says no to publishing reports from CRES? or at least ask questions to the reports from CRES?

    Example the CRES show a image from the internet of a irresponsible parent holding a kid on a roadblock. Then they say – this is why we did not clear the area today – because there are kids in there. – And that’s it? No questions? How about this for a question: Did you know not that there where kids in there before today? If so why did you state that you would clear the area couple of hours ago?

    Have a look at the twitter part of The Nation newspaper (frontpage left column) so you can see the comments from the “journalists” does comments like these give the rest of the newspaper lack of credibility? – Answer is defiantly YES!

    Take a look at the CV of Dan Rivers and seriously ask yourself if this guy is trying to fool the world?

    Again ask yourself another question after looking at the CV do you think someone in the official Thailand might have an issue with Dan Rivers…hmmm perhaps the story of Rohingya refrugees and the Thai Navy?

    Or do you really expect us to believe that CNN, BBC, German TV, France TV, Danish TV, AFP, Reuters, Norwegian TV etc. can get the story right all over the world but somehow not in Thailand?

    Remember the first victim of a war is always the truth…

  39. Spot on! I have also always thought that anyone who disagrees with me must be ignorant of "the facts."

  40. You have talked about Dan Rivers, But what about BBC. Their reporting was totally biased too.
    How come the journalists whose job is to know every angle and then do a fair reporting, distort the facts and present them to the world.
    May be nowadays reporting is not reporting the truth but reporting to make it sensational news.

  41. Lets turned it around for a second – Do you understand the western world media?
    Here you have the politicians to make the laws and rules, the police to take those who don’t follow, the courts to judge them…and then you have another one in Thailand: The military and you are not really sure where they fit in?
    In the western world you have the same – except for the military but instead you have the media to control and watch what the others are doing and why – now if only you had the same in Thailand…
    I also think you are missing some important issues in your analysis. You say there has not been a rift between the rich and poor in this country before? Where does most of the north-eastern population derive from? Wasn’t there something with slaves from Laos?
    Looking beyond the rich/poor issue you also have a new Joint chief of staff coming up this year to follow Anupong don’t you agree that this job will have a lot power perhaps more than ever in Thailand in the coming years?

  42. Great article but as far as the western press is concerned; they love the "underdog" because it sells more papers. They also know that this affair is going to be over pretty soon and try to make the most of it.
    One important thing you forgot, this mob has over the last week’s acquired another very dangerous element, a large number of junkies as well as criminals who enjoy freedom in looting and steeling etc.. a lot of them are armed and shoot at anybody who stands in their way

  43. I quite agree with one of the opinion saying that if Dan Rivers (including other foreign feild reporters) doen't understand enoung Thai language, he(or any reporter) is no different from a tourist with a camera. At least his commonsense on those who were holding those signs printed neatly in english, were just peasant who, from my point, would really understand any world in the sign they were waving. More over, everyone knows that the impact from CNN is enormous, let alone the hidden agenda. Thank you for putting thing straigh, but please keep it every angle of view.

  44. ขอบอกคนไทยนะครับว่า ประโยคสุดท้านคุณสมเถาไม่ได้โทษคนไทยที่ไม่ได้ให้ข้อมูลกับฝรั่ง แต่ประชดฝรั่งที่ทำงานเป็นสื่อแท้ๆ ยังต้องให้คนมาป้อนข้อมูลให้ สื่อที่ดีต้องหาข้อมูล

    สื่อที่ต้องให้ข้อมูลจัดเรียงให้เข้าใจง่าย สื่อที่ต้องให้ข้อมูลมารอกรอกหูกรอกปาก เป็นสื่อไร้สมรรถภาพ

  45. These reporters are just looking from the outside without properly comprehending the real situation. Simply reporting in their own perspectives. It is a pity! The real victims are overlooked and they are treated as mere pawns to protect the democracy they are taught and the ones who taught them. Blind followers following their blind leaders....

  46. Allan: I very much doubt that Rivers is trying to fool anyone. The facts of the Ronhingya story were a lot closer to the "compelling story" aesthetic I've talked about ... and there weren't nearly as many facts to analyse. It was just a much simpler story and I and many others appreciated how Rivers presented it. Those media you name do NOT in fact always get the story right all over the world "except in Thailand". Even in my limited experience of being interviewed or talking to media in Europe and the U.S., I've found that there is pretty always some kind of mistranslation through an alien worldview ... even when speaking the SAME language.

    At its best of course this is why independent reportage exists and is important ... to give us this distancing. But the longer I'm here in the world, the faster the news cycle gets, the more frequently I've spotted egregious errors in even the most un-alien of stories.

    About the Isaan language ... the red shirt leaders have not, in any public arena that I've seen, been using it. I am sure most of them do not, in fact, speak the language. Isaan speakers have, perhaps for centuries, been bullied into believing theirs is a somehow "inferior" language and I do believe that when their leaders address them in standard Thai, its unfamiliarity and "highfallutin" cadences make them more likely to accept what they're told. One thing that I might do were in charge (which is highly unlikely) would be to end the marginalization of the northeastern dialect.

    Now, the old "official who did not want his name mentioned" thing ... as I recall, that subterfuge was frequently used in exposing the Watergate scandal, was it not? We call this protecting our sources.

    I should add that although I have, from time to time, written for The Nation and The Post, my work has also appeared in the Washington Post, Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Guardian, and other what some might call "real" newspapers.

    Thank you for a really interesting discussion and very valid points.
    -- Somtow

  47. A great job of getting the real "Truth Today" out there.

  48. its about enfranchisement... voting

    its the uneducated military/elites that dont want to understand democracy

    let the people vote

  49. A great piece of analysis. Disagree with this paragraph though:

    "the yellow shirts' greatest error in moulding its international image was to elevate Thaksin's corruption as its major bone of contention. Thai governments have always been corrupt. The extent of corruption and the fact that much of it went into only one pocket was shocking to Thais, but the west views all "... See moresecond-rate countries" as being corrupt. Had they used the human rights violations and muzzling of the press as their key talking points, the "heroic revolution" archetype would have been moulded with opposite protagonists, and CNN and BBC would be telling an opposite story today."

    -I'm not a yellow, but I don't think it's a crime to be appalled by "corruption". All governments are corrupted, yes, but it doesn't excuse what Thaksin's govt did. I think the greatest error of Thaksin's admin was using "democratic election" as a pathway to his "undemocracy" and "parliamentary dictatorship", thereby, permanently damaged Thailand's political mentality/system. In the meantime, the yellows' greatest errors are closing the airport and creating a political party out of its "people's movement".

  50. Allen got great point.

  51. Likewise! (interesting discussion and very valid points)

    For the Isaan language I was thinking about the demonstrators not their leaders. You know instead of the usual talking heads, someone who is actually on the frontline or those women talking together in front of the scene. But I think this goes for both the foreign and Thai media that no one have done to much of that. Or perhaps France 24 was trying today but got kicked out.

    Watergate = Damn good point!

    And like you I have also had the "pleasure" working for both foreign media (Broadcasting) and one Thai-TV station. Perhaps if they do agree to a new "roadmap" we should volunteer to help shape Thai media and press freedom :-)

  52. Hey
    i am watching the news in Norway, and can tell that reporters whit no,or little knowlegde of Thailand is reporting all this in a sad way. This problem needs a lot of understanding about Thailand, before they should make any comment. And to many " expert" farang have the right answer. I only say, thai people can make the future for Thailand. Not the farang, or the press. Good luck Thailand, i know you can solwe this

  53. I ranted and raved for hours yesterday and today with my colleagues about the biased reporting of western newspapers and TV media, like NYT, CNN, BBC.

    I was just reading this very insightful blog and see practically 100% of my arguments and concerns about the previous government that have led us to the present situation.

    In my opinion, it is spot on. My best congratulations to Somtow. Keep on writing and let's hope other western media will take the hint and learn something about Thailand and Thai politics.

  54. Thank you so much Khun Somtow. Well said and spot on. You speak my mind. I have forwarded what you wrote to some of my Thai friends and some of my foreigner friends (all of them used to live and work in Bangkok and know Thailand well enough.) around the globe. This is from someone who has known you not personally, and not just by reading this article but through your works, lectures/talks (I once went to the talk you gave at a place which I do not want to disclose here in the public), interviews you have made over the years. Thank you again for providing an insight into the story in English for those who wish to look under the headlines given by BBC and CNN!

  55. The Nation a real news paper lol

  56. Hi Somtow,

    thanks for your analysis. The point about " the western mindset, a deeply ingrained sense of the moral superiority of western culture which carries with it the idea that a third world country must by its very nature be ruled by despots, oppress peasants, and kill and torture people. " has been tackled and criticised by Edward Said in the 70's, in his work "Orientalism". It has since spurred the post-colonialism movement in the Anglo-American academic circle to be more critical of colonial representations and current western representations of the third-world and its deep-seated bias.

    So if a farang can't accept this, throw this 40 years of post-colonialism at them. :P

  57. Thank you ever so much, K. Somtow.

  58. I know The Nation is a real paper, silly. I try to convey irony without the advantage of being face to face, but sometimes I don't succeed!

    To the yellow shirt above, I did not say it was wrong to complain of Thaksin's corruption. I said that it was the wrong issue to raise in terms of foreign media.

  59. Thai history takes place in the shadows-- impossible for anyone to report on.

    anyway, Thais should be bitching more their own media instead of worrying about CNN. where's the anger over being served game shows and soaps instead of in-depth news?

  60. Hooray!

    Does anyone realise there is a real market here for the govt to hire a professional PR team! The message from the govt has not been "providing the facts in bite-sized pieces, in the right language, at the right time". This has been frustrating me now for some time, I keep repeating this to my friends!I wondered if it was because I only spoke English but I asked a couple of friends who can speak reasonable THAI and they agreed, they were also not reading/hearing/seeing clear messages. But Thaksin sends his messages out with beautiful timing and even though they're not very subtle and they are very meddlesome, you do have to admire the team he is hiring. The media always picks up his messages and uses the just as he intends.

    Also I keep thinking about how silly Dan and a number of others have dumbed it down for the Western media. Sidner is not as bad to be fair. The only journo that has made any sense recently has been Vaudine England but her report was too brief. Have they flown her over from HK to sort out the young ones?, I did notice today a slight change in the way things were being reported - to a degree.

    You are SPOT ON about the moral superiority angle. Dan is making these bizarre judgements about right and wrong, poor goodies and rich baddies. He has set himself up as a laughing stock and I reckon they are trying to phase him out. He got caught up with it all and didn't do his homework. Does he have any idea about the background of some of the 'leaders' of the red shirt movement? Does he think that now the red sympathisers are no longer allowed to enter the main rally site, that violence and vandalism is ok? Does he think these red shirts would make good leaders? Does he honestly think they are fighting for democracy? Does he understand how corruption works? What about brainwashing? The reds are unable to control the unruly street elements and there is no way the army can retreat. And guess what Dan? I used to live in the live fire zone too, it was my area as well (until I moved out 3 weeks ago), I hung out there most of the time but guess what - I can't stand the divisions between rich and poor here - or my country either! But I don't think violence is the thing that changes a society overnight Dan - but Lord I'd love to know what Dan reckons might solve the problem! Can you imagine? Err, I know, let's make it a democracy! It's like Dan is still in Year 9. He has no idea what this is all about, he has no appreciation for who the Thai people are, how complicated this is, what is at stake. How restrained the soldiers have been - my lord, if they wanted to show no restraint it would have been all over in a blink.

    Dear Somtow, thanks for writing all that you have said. I am sending this commentary to a few of my friends overseas who are trying to make sense of it all - they just want those women and children out!

    PS Did anyone notice Nattuwat wearing that white shirt the other day with the gun on the top right? Also love the Waco/Jonestown comment, this is exactly what someone mentioned to me today.

  61. Of course you left out one of the most pressing issues, that of course no one is permitted to talk about.

  62. Dear Khun Somtow,

    Thank you for your post. Nothing to add. I think you have a good point.

    Dear Allan,

    Maybe you missed a chance to see all the criticism the western media has on "each other". I have seen on many "western" channels on how the news in "western" country has been distorted before airing, and how the "western" media chooses to air "some pieces" of information. Please don't tell me that you have never heard of one. Please don't tell me that the whole world have to believe every single word CNN or BBC or "western media" report. If that's the case, you are very closed-mind. You will need to do more homework before observing.

  63. right on, Somtow...........


  64. Your summary of the situation is excellent. These are the reasons why I cannot bring myself to sympathize much with the protesters. While I feel that they have some legitimate reason for cause, but I also feel that their leaders are not representing their best interests. And it's going to take years of social reform to bring about the right changes to improve the situation as it took for the Civil Rights movements in the US.

    I think the current problem with the government is they need a good PR firm to advocate their side of the story. Without it, people will be brain-washed into the red-shirt point of view. I'm so frustrated today when I saw some protesters drove by my office building that I listed my questions of why's.

    For example, if they red shirt protesters are not paid to protest, why are there no motorcycles riding around town crying their hearts out for all their injured/killed brothers and sisters? Why are all their propagandas printed commercially (and I know those signs are not cheap to print!) when I remembered that when I joined the protest against the coup in 1993, we had to write our own signs? I know times have changed, but still, if I get all my neighbors together to go protest, I doubt if the first thing I'll think of is run to the nearest print shop to print THB2,000 (per piece) banners for me and my neighbors! Lastly, Why do they insist that they are holding a peaceful rally when they are conducting illegal road blocks and illegal searches?

    For the bigger picture, if Thaksin was so good for people in the rural area, how come their problems did not disappear while he was in power? While the economy was a lot better during the Thaksin years, is his government really better for the country or is it just changing the faces of evil from old power to new power that is not really better than before? If classic corrupt Thai government/politicians are considered to be stealing from the people, can the Thaksin government/politicians/regime be considered stealing from the country? Which is better or worse for the country? When will people start viewing authorities (police and military) as friends and not foe?

    I would be so grateful if someone could answer these questions for me. Maybe, I'll be more sympathetic to the protesters. And for the record, I'm not really happy with this government either for all the indecisiveness and inability to be effective in many cases.

  65. ตอนนี้ผมกำลังสงสัยครับคุณสมเถา ว่าไอ้พวกเสื้อแดงที่เราว่ากันว่าเลว กับศอฉ.และรัฐบาล ใครกำลังโกหกเราอยู่ หรือว่าพวกเขาต่างก็โกหกเราอยู่ และรัฐบาลของเราเองมีสิทธิที่จะโกหกหลอกลวงประชาชนของตนเองหรือเปล่า สิ่งที่สื่อต่างชาติรายงานอยู่ก็เป็นเพียงแค่อีกด้านหนึ่งของเหรียญที่แทบจะไม่ปรากฏในสื่อของไทยเลย ถ้าเราเลือกที่จะฟังทั้งสองด้านแล้วพิจารณาดู บางทีก็จะรู้ว่ามันก็เลวไม่ยิ่งหย่อนกว่ากันเลย

  66. Somtow this is an excellent article and in a very logical manner virtually covers off all the previous and current issues affecting thailand that all westerners should be able to grasp.

    Well done and as a resident of BKK I hope some international media correspondents actually take notice so as to indentify some very sinister underlying objectives that are currently being played out. This is from a citizen that has no axe to grind within any political party or colour coded group.

  67. totally agree with LH

  68. ขอบคุณค่ะคุณสมเถา ที่มีหัวใจคนไทยเหมือนเรา

  69. Wow. Thank you so much for the great information, ideas and discussion. I'll try and pass it on to as many people as I can. Hopefully by people having a deeper understanding of the world we can end this mess!

  70. In a country of marginalized others, who could possibly stomach even bite size morsel of truthful information. It would taste so much better with a splash of revisionism to meet that overarching archetype you so eloquently described.


    Shut up you is not understand Thailand

  72. thank you. i took the liberty to post this on my facebook page na ka.

  73. So it's all good, we found the answer to all this: it's the international reporters! Things are good here (and oh, yeah, the soldiers only shot in self-defense, as our brave witness Somtow can confirm).
    The warped western mind sees all in black and white. Unlike Somtow, who found the truth about Thailand's crisis: there are evil monsters (the red leaders) and innocent, misquoted, misinterpreted angels (Abhisit). The rest doesn't count, because those poor exploited red shirts are buffaloes anyway.

  74. Dear Somtow,

    I admit that I may be biased as a foreigner, but I do not see you as having to be ruled by despots - you are "reigned" by the last real Righteous King in the world.

    What I do see you as is desperately naive - as well as many of your farang leaders. CNN and BBC are deliberate pro-Red Propaganda - sad but true, and all the nice-sounding words about Western media facing no censorship are just memories of "times that once existed when money wasn't King" (Tom Petty).

    they do not need censors, they have owners, and the dans-riverses are the best censors for themselves.

    It is childishly naive of you to suppose that they do not know about the "War on Drugs and sadistic dealing of the moslems in the South. the thing is, Thaksi started the Hun SEnian process of selling your country down the river, the coup stopped it - forgive me, but if a defender of Dhamma is in a minority of one, then that sole defender should rule, no matter how many venal - or misguided - or not caring - individuals voted against him every day, and that defender of Dhamma better have a really sharp sword.

    Western societies are mostly ruled by people who get elected all right - but what do they do, all of them? do you think if th e people of Germany had their will, there would have been a single German soldier in Afghanistan? Do you think the bankers would have gotten a single penny toward their obscene palaces and helicopters, if th eUS taxapyers had their will?

    What is "democracy" - is it going through the almost idolatrous "election" ritual, like Mugabe or Hun Sen or lots of darlings of "Western democracies" in Eastern Europe who were systematically transferring the national budget to their own Swiss accounts, after being democratically elected?

    Or is it the ruler(s)doing what the majority of the people want?

    Or is it the ruler(s) acting even against the will of the majority, if the majority, like in Thailand, are admirers of Sri Thanonchai that any true Christian, Buddhist or Moslem finds simply revolting?

    How many Thai monks have pointed out to the people that the Buddha was as amattaya as it gets, in th eprocess of this "class struggle"?

    No, dear Somtow, there is a SYSTEM to the madness of "free media" reporting - there has not been one thief or venal whore among the "newly democratic" leaders whom they did not love, while the only individual who stood up for his country and did not allow obscene "privatisations" of national resources for peanuts, the one in Belarus, was defamed as a nouveeu-hitler and even denied visas to Western countries.

    One thing you have to remember, Khun Somtow, those 'free media" represent buyers of their colonies-by-proxy, and they do not like to pay real prices - trust me, they don't took them 70 years to get Russian resources for zero price, but they have the stamina, believe me - and they are a hell of a lot better at understanding the true state of things in your country than you give them credit for.

  75. fantastic blog, thank you very much

  76. Fantastic article, thank you Khun Somtow !

  77. So absolutely spot on! Hurray! PLEASE send this on to all news media.

  78. darn mate. Nice one :D

  79. คนเลว ไม่ควรมีอำนาจ แม้เป็นอำนาจเล็กๆ หรือชี้เป็นชี้ตาย

  80. To Frank,

    Check out some red-shirt intellects websites or FBs, they do have some valid points. We just have to ignore some cr*p in there re PAD did that, PAD did this when the red-shirt try to justify their stands.

    I like Khun Somtow's point above that Abhisit is quite red -- in terms of liberalisation and Thug-Sin is very yellow -- in terms of Oligarchy.

    If only the red-rally's intents adhere to injustice, poverty or even som red-ish demands (more money to the poor, more tax to the elite etc)...

  81. The "actual" depth of interest in Thailand's situation amongst the international media can be summed up with the fact that Bangkok didn't even make it into Google's top world news stories today (May 18).

    Continue the good work Khun Somtow, but don't leave it too long to publish your day-by-day account of events as the world's attention today cannnot be held for longer than a headline...

  82. This is terrific. I am sending on to as many as will listen. Thanks! Now to get this out to CNN,BBC, etc. AND the US State Department!!!

  83. Thanks for this excellent article. May I share it with others ? This is what THailand really needs now.... "the facts in bite-sized pieces, in the right language, at the right time." Please write more and more...

  84. Agree with you except about Dan Rivers who should do more homework. And in this kind of situation, foreign media always have a Thai translator accompanying them and also verify the story together before broadcast it.

    Anyway, he was questioned by CNN (on air) regarding this complaint. He then said that he 'personally' hasn't seen Red with weapons. He wants to see that too but perhaps he's at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

    My opinion, since he hasn't seen it 'personally', he should also says there's people who claim they have seen it.

  85. The "actual" depth of interest in Thailand's situation by the international media can be summed up with the fact that Bangkok didn't even make it into Google's top world news reports today (May 18th).
    Khun Somtow, continue the good work, but may I suggest that you do not leave it too long to publish your day-to-day account of events as is seems the world's attention these days cannot be held for longer than a headline...

    Keep the faith.

  86. ขอบคุณที่ลงแรงค่ะ
    ขออนุญาตแบ่งปันให้คนอื่นๆนะคะ ข้อเขียนที่อ่านแล้ว อาจไปกระตุ้นจิตสำนึกของคนหลายคน หรืออาจทำให้คนบางคนที่ "ไร้ซึ่งสามัญสำนึก"

  87. The simple facts you raised for reporters to know before writing story are just true. I don't think you take side at all. You didn't say the Red is bad or CRES is telling lies. But it's the facts about the country where Thai people have known for like decades. Thanks for putting them into English, clearly and precisely.

  88. Good that it says "Somtow's World" in top of the page... At least we know how your world looks like...

  89. Upon my tweets earlier for more balanced reporting, Dan Rivers followed me, then direct messaged me and after that unfollowed me (so I could not send a reply back) with as his direct message and I quote:

    "Why don't you fuck off!"

    Hardly a professional and level-headed response I would say.

    Am I the only one or have others also noticed that he looks less healthy the last 3 days. Blood-shot eyes and a hazy stare. I hope it's only fatigue. If there are other reasons for his appearance then I hope they get a better replacement to the Bangkok office soon.

    This situation is too important to be left to someone who's been training on the job for at least 3 years now.

    Jonas Kipps
    (via Twitter)

  90. We're discussing about press ethics or political issues? ;) Nonetheless, thank you for sharing another aspect of media power.

  91. "There are two basic problems: preconception and language". Does that go both ways?

    "But there is, in the western mindset, a deeply ingrained sense of the moral superiority" What is on the reverse of that coin?

    This piece is a bit like a pie with no meat and potatoes. It looks good but when you stick your fork in there is nothing there.

  92. Open question to Dan of CNN : do you receive money fundings from Taksin ?

    Is Dan and CNN another part of the Taksin's grand master plan of money-talk policy ?

    Dan is so unprofessional in his reporting that it makes his credentials questionable.

    What is Dan of CNN personel relationship with Jakkrapop Phenkae, red hardcore and ex-sec. to Taksin.

    Stop CNN from biased naive reporting !!

  93. Very accurate account of the event. This answers why Western reporters are biased but WHAT A DISAPPOINTING CONCLUSION!!! I can't believe that someone with intelligence and articulation as this guy would come to this conclusion. He basically promotes bad journalism. News agent and anchors have journalistic integrity to adhere. Otherwise anyone can be a news reporter. I can be a news reporter on Iran, knowing nothing about the country, spend a day and decide to make stories about only English signs I can read. It's because of sheer greed and irresponsibility that make the reporter tell untrue stories.

  94. This is going to be a long note, but I want my overseas friends to
    > understand what has been happening here in Thailand. You would only
    > see the soldiers' shooting scenes or injured people being carried away
    > on international TV channels for 30 seconds, but never got to know
    > about the background. The truth is, the Thai government has been too
    > accommodating by withholding the use of force since the rally started
    > 2 months ago (with the exception of 10th April event, when the
    > soldiers were ordered to move in without live weapons and subsequently
    > got slaughtered by unknown gunmen shooting from the 'Red Shirt'
    > protesters).
    > The majority of us support the government in dealing with the
    > terrorists hidden amongst the protesters. It held talks with the rally
    > leaders and offered peace solutions to them 10 days ago. The Prime
    > Minister publicly urged the protesters to disperse for fear of
    > violence created by the terrorists. But the plan wasn't accepted. So,
    > it's time to block food and water supplies entering the center of the
    > protest. If the protesters were peaceful, they wouldn't rush out to
    > throw rocks, firecrackers and even bombs at the soldiers' barricade --
    > thus, causing the soldiers to defend themselves by firing rubber
    > bullets and live rounds.
    > It's very frustrating for the law-abiding citizen of Bangkok -- we
    > even voiced our dissatisfaction at the government for its failure to
    > uphold the laws. The situation was like Bangkok was being held for
    > ransom. A lot of businesses got affected because it's right in the
    > middle of the major commercial area.
    > Again, think what your government would do if there were a large group
    > of protesters blocking all traffic at Orchard Road in Singapore; Times
    > Square in NYC; Ginza in Tokyo; or Knightsbridge in London for two
    > months. They set up barricades to search through personal belongings
    > of everyone travelling through the area. Also think what it would do
    > if those protesters invaded a nearby hospital, causing doctors &
    > nurses to evacuate patients -- some of whom are newborn babies in
    > incubators and those in ICU -- to other hospitals. And most important
    > of all, think what it would do if the protesters were found to have
    > large stockpile of M79 grenades, M16 & AK47 assault rifles.
    > Do you think your government would be as tolerable as the Thai
    > government?
    > Reungvit (Ging) Nandhabiwat
    > 15 May 2010

  95. Hmm ... a LOT of people didn't realize that the last paragraph of my blog is ironic. I guess they just have to hear the tone of voice.

    I'm fascinated by Jonas Kipps's message, above. At first I thought that the comment signed "Mary Rivers" was a hoax, but coupled with Jonas' story, maybe it's not.

    To the guy who said my essay contained nothing of substance, I would respond: the first person ever to say that to me was my director of studies at Cambridge. He said once, "You have the prose style of an angel, Somtow. but you haven't actually said anything." Thank god I've been able to parlay "saying nothing" into a fairly lucrative career!

  96. Overall, I agree with this article. Fault reports, however, represent their deficient knowledge and/or irresponsible work. Otherwise, they just got PAID to work.

  97. K'Somtow - I'm not one of your followers but have been "lurking" on your tweets every now and again.
    Thank you for tackling an issue that has been bugging many people. I have been quite frustrated by the questions raised by some friends and acquaintances after they saw the news about Thailand. I don't generally watch these news, but after seeing a BBC interview of PM Abhisit a few weeks back, I sent the station an email to protest the fact that the interviewer was so ill-informed about the basic facts that led to here asking inane questions.
    I hope that you won't mind my distributing your blog today to help the people I know.

  98. Thanks for taking your time to write this article. It will help clarify a lot of hidden details which a lot of international journalists fail to communicate. I would like to share your article so that the foreigners understand better Thai background and current situation! Thanks

  99. It may not be about language barrier. Perhaps, Mr Dan and other well-paid reporters from CNN and BBC should just try to walk along Rama IV, Bon Kai. Financial Times reporter is foreigner too, yet his work is true professional. In short, incompetent and overpaid.

  100. Mr Somtow you almost addressed my third point but missed the first two. Has the ego no limit :)?

  101. @ Anonymous

    Now who is making judgement now on wrong premise. Did I not write: "I am not saying that they live up to this always (E.g. Fox News)"

  102. Nice sarcastic heading.

    Great article !! So true yet so sad so few realize. I'm spreading the link, hoping to enlight even one more person.

  103. Impressive piece. Thank you for writing this article for us. You have made my day. Our English is not good enough to elaborate it and communicate with our international friends.

    I do however have a problem with referring "red" as liberalization and "yellow" as oligarchy. I think locally and internationally people are falling into Thaksin's game who tried to undermine the people process to check and hold him accountable by matching yellow color with "traditional", "oligarchy" which obviously won't sell well in a modern time. The world then was focusing on liberal-underdog & royalist-elite...and you know how the west would view this. Therefore most of us loose sight of what really is hapenning.

    In any event, I am interested to know how you would describe the evolution of "yellow" and "red" in this current political upheaval. If you don't mind, please do so...couldn't wait to read it.

    Thank you so much,


  104. Dear Somtow (part 1)
    I find this article to be a disingenuous attempt to mislead outside observers about the reality of the situation in Thailand. Or maybe it's not and you really believe what you write.
    The thing you really need to ask yourself is in the almost four years since the coup, what has improved?
    I'm sure almost no Western journalists in Thailand would deny that there were massive problems with Thaksin's rule. Rising authoritarianism, restrictions on the press and gross violations of human rights were indeed signatures of his time in office. However, what has been done to correct this since the coup?
    In the past four years how many people have been prosecuted for the war on drugs?
    How many people have been prosecuted for the killings in Songkhla and Pattani on April 28, 2004?
    How many people have been prosecuted for the Tak Bai massacre?
    Have gross violations of rights stopped since Thaksin? What about the killing of the Rohingya? Did Abhisit bring anyone to justice for that? Were any officers involved even formerly disciplined? Why did the government refuse to allow observers from international organisations when the Hmong refugees were 'voluntarily repatriated' by the army?

    And how about the worst abuse of all when one Yellow Shirt was killed by a tear gas grenade while trying to invade parliament as part of an armed mob? Oh yes, many people were charged for that including the chief of police and prime minister while Abhisit when still in opposition insisted the only course for the government was to take responsibility and resign. How his stance has changed now that more than 60 people have been killed on the streets of Bangkok.

    Now, since Abhisit's rise we also have people given long jail terms for what are basically thought crimes. Does the name Suwicha Thakhor mean anything to you? I doubt even in Burma whether someone with no background in political activism would be given 10 years in jail for a few daft cartoons of Than Shwe. I know you will try and say that what he did is different, but it isn't. Look around on the Internet (if that is you are not in Thailand or can use proxies) and you will find an increasing number of Thai people think the same.

    Now, to your comparison of Abhisit's rise to power to that of the Con-Lib alliance in the UK. You must realize that the two are not comparable. The Conservatives were a few seats short of a majority, much like Palang Prachchachon following the 2007 election. In fact, Palang Prachchachon (the reincarnation of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai) were a mere 8 seats off an overall majority, a whopping win considering that in Thailand's democratic history only once has a party won an overall majority – the Thai Rak Thai landslide in 2005 (not counting of course the annulled 2006 elections when the Democrats refused to take part as they knew they would lose).

    To draw a comparison with the recent UK election we need to imagine that, instead of accepting defeat, Gordon Brown keeps onto his position of party leader and then encourages and condones the unlawful actions of an oft-violent mob as they seize downing street for many months, attempt to invade the house of commons and then take over both heathrow and gatwick airports. Gordons's good friends in the British courts, empowered by (small suspension of disbelief required here) Britain's first fully written constitution hastily drafted by Gordon's other friends in the military, disband both the conservatives and the lib dems. Gordon's friend the Army general then bullies and bribes say George Osbourne into defecting to Labour along with the ex Lib-Dem MPs to form a new coalition government. I doubt many in the UK would see this as democratic. Why should it be different in Thailand?

  105. Great insight. I am disappointed with CNN this time , with its good reputation, for the reporter who did not do his homework well enough. CNN undermined our country by sending small time reporter like Dan Rivers!

  106. Part 2

    Anyway, I tire of this silly analogy. The part of the constitution relating to party dissolution was not there to control electoral fraud. Neither did 'They simply did not take their own constitution seriously enough to follow it.' As can now be seen by the recommendation of the electoral commission to dissolve the democrats too, the clause in the constitution to dissolve the whole party for one act of electoral fraud by an executive member was ridiculous in a country with a political culture like Thailand. This clause meant that the constitutional court could basically dissolve any party that displeased it. If the democrats are indeed dissolved, none of the political parties in existence before the coup will still be functional (with the potential exception of some small ones that I've forgotten about). No democracy can function under these conditions. If the democrats are not dissolved, then it will show that the clause was there solely to prolong the influence of the military if Palang Prachachon were to win the election. To claim that the Democrats are not also guilty of electoral fraud is not realistic. While Abhisit may not be personally corrupt, don't forget the Southern big beasts of the party where the real power lies who are certainly no strangers to corruption charges.

    Talking of corruption, has it really improved post Thaksin? Despite all Abhisit's talk of corruption when in opposition, he was more than happy to jump into bed with the likes of Newin and Banharn. I'm sure you may remember that Newin was once one of the most hated figures of the Thakisn governments and Banharn 'the eel' Silpa-acha is not exactly known for being honest either.

    What about the military budget? In the year and a half following the coup In the year and a half after the coup, the military budget went up from 86 Billion Baht to 143 Billion Baht (source:http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2007/06/28/politics/politics_30037960.php ). This dwarfs the 49bn baht seized from Thaksin by the courts for 'policy corruption' in his five years in office. Since then budgets have continued to rise under the Democrats (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/LB26Ae01.html).

    This would be all well and good if it had been spent on improving the efficiency of the military. However, it has not. Following the coup, the Deep South had a hellish year in 2007 with almost a thousand deaths (999 if my memory serves me correct). By far the worst year on record. In the last few days we have seen that the military still has only two responses to protests: 1. Stand by while the protestors run riot and willfully ignore the law and menace the general populace; or 2. engage in a brutal crackdown with large amounts of unnecessary loss of life. The appropriate response to a man armed with a slingshot is not a live round to the head.

    Instead of investing in genuine improvements the military has been busy engaging in highly suspicions deals such as its Gripen jets apparently to be used chasing insurgents through the villages of Banang Sata, or its stupid airship also for the South that will clearly never see the light of day and of course, we can't forget the wonderful GT-200.

    'The red TV station has a perfect right to exist.' You know perfectly well that the Red tv station is not the only restriction of the press. The government has blocked literally hundreds of websites including not only hardcore Red media but also important sites such as Prachathai, a virulent critic of Thaksin back in the day. Again, the restriction of the press undoubtedly started under Thaksin, but has worsened since the coup. Reporters now need not only fear a nasty lawsuit for libel but also risk a long jail sentence imposed at a closed-door trial. Ask the editor of the aforementioned Prachathai about the threats to journalists from the current government.

  107. Part 4
    Part 4
    Even if the worst thoughts about this conflict turn out to be true and it is little more than an ugly power grab between elite groups, then at least one set of elites has repeatedly won elections and would probably do so again if a free and fair contest were held. The other set, now led by Abhisit, has repeatedly lost elections over the past decade and would probably do so again if a free and fair contest were held.

    I think your criticisms of Western thought but refusal to see Abhisit as in anyway undemocratic seem to reflect a certain characteristic of many (though by no means all) of the educated elite in Thailand. You hold an outward skepticism toward the West, but are at the same time desperately long for its approval.

    That is why instead of accepting that you are fearful of democracy. You are from a country where your type is vastly outnumbered by the increasingly well-informed poor and new lower middle class. Their chosen candidate is now reliably able to defeat yours at the ballot box. You therefore have to insist against all the facts that your candidate is democratically elected despite the fact he clearly isn't.

    That is also why the PAD includes democracy in its name, despite being wildly undemocratic (though to be fair to Sondhi he has finally admitted that he doesn't want democracy anymore, but Dhammaocracy – presuming we accept that the likes of him and Chamlong are the only ones allowed to define what Dhamma is).

    As far as I understand, a similar, but even more extreme fear, gripped the country in the mid-70s when many people decided they didn't really like the democracy that came after 73. The blood-thirsty status updates from many Bangkokians on Facebook and Twitter, and the SoOrChor's regular bulletins are scarily reminiscent of a milder form of the accounts of the lead up to October 76.

    To conclude, you obviously have a right to an opinion about how the country is run. All I ask is that you be honest about it. If you want some kind of military-guided semi-democracy just please be brave enough to say so. And please don't take your confusion out on foreign journalists. If you don't like reading or seeing things you don't agree with, I advise you to stick to The Nation, Bangkok Post, Manager, Thai Post or any of the government TV channels in Thailand.

  108. Part 3
    As for your last comment, ' the only people who do not seem to care about the reds' actual grievances are their own leaders, who are basically making everyone risk their lives to see if they can get bail.' I also share suspicions about many of the leaders in the Red cam. But as I write this, on your website is a tweet from you yourself saying 'At 8 pm the reds were booing their leaders for saying they'd negotiate. But it's calmed down now.' That hardly seems like the reaction people being made to risk their lives.

    So, while there may well be a certain tendency among Westerners (and some Thais) to romanticize the backgrounds of the Reds, the main reason why many foreign reporters refuse to see the situation as you do are the ones above. Many of the sentiments reflected in Western reports on the crisis are also shared by some in the Thai media. You are misleading people by suggesting they are not. Even without going onto the many online media sources reflecting similar views and translating reports by foreign media so Thais can access them, you only need to look at Matichon Sud Sapda or page three of Thai Rath and you will see many of the same issues reflected by people with a full grasp of the Thai language and culture.

    On that issue, it is patronizing to say that there are 'only perhaps a dozen foreigners who really understand Thai thoroughly.' If you go to any Western university with a Southeast Asian Studies department you will find Westerners quite capable of understanding Thai thoroughly. It is no harder for a Westerner to master Thai, than for a Thai to master English or French. There is nothing particularly mysterious or difficult about the Thai language, it is just there is less demand for Thai as it is only really useful in two countries therefore not that many choose to study it seriously. That many of the foreigners in Thailand don't speak Thai, isn't because it is uniquely challenging, it is because they can get by without speaking Thai and are either too busy or are lazy sexpats with little interest in the country beyond its women.

  109. Dear K Somtow,

    I have never used my keyboards to post any opinions but this time is really the first. I think you deserve merit and I really think it is most appropriate and timely that this is being commented or discussed by many serious bloggers. Let me share my personal opinion and I understand there may be those who disagree.

    I am a regular listener to both CNN and BBC and do read many local and foreign newspapers and news websites too. On several occasions and also in the past, I noticed the political reports by Mr Dan Rivers CNN had always an angle that was "unique" and adopted different perspectives from most regular media, be it Thai or Foreign.

    To be different and unique or trying to be may necessarily cause harm than good. Many people around the world has faith in good journalism because they expect in depth research from reporters and to give a true and non-biased opinion or analysis and ultimately, present it clearly and "interestingly" to viewers or listeners. The excuse that Mr Rivers being a foreigner whether he stays 1 day or 5 years is not a good excuse. So as a journalist, he should also be responsible enough to read the local media to get the facts and at the same time, witness and gather facts himself and present it correctly in his angle. It seems that most or almost most local media reports quite the opposite of Mr Rivers' report in this political standoff starting from Day 1. That is why I can't tolerate this futher and thus writing this.

    My opinion is that Mr Rivers now and in the past..
    1. either doesn't want to do his homework or
    2. he is "misled" or
    3. he doesnt take his work seriously in doing proper in depth analysis or
    4. he chooses to report against the "mainstream"

    I feel that he is practising No 4 because he feels he wants to be the lead, being different or counter the mainstream is being unique and challenging! If this is true, Mr Rivers or any journalists who just want to be different and in the process distorts the truth is irresponsible. I think Nos 1 - 3 is unacceptable but to practise No 4 is not only unacceptable and indeed, dishonourable. It is dishonourable because he knows the facts/opinions of the mainstream but chooses to report in a way not reflecting the reality.

    It is scary when CNN is a media which reaches out to many parts of the world and has viewers who rely on truthful facts or unbiased opinions has not fulfilled this task properly. I hope Mr Rivers will seriously reconsider his style of reporting.

  110. Great and wise analysis! Love it and thanks for taking time writing this!

  111. To Reungvit (Ging) Nandhabiwat
    I'll try not to sound patronizing, but this would never have happened in a country with an effective police force. Look at the history of protests in the West. Can you think of similar examples with a similar civilian death toll inflicted by the security forces? With effective, non-lethal crowd control the crisis would never have got to this stage. Protesters would never have been able to occupy an area of London or Paris for a prolonged period like they have in Bangkok.

    There has been no need for 60 deaths. Some deaths are admittedly unavoidable - the security forces have a right to use firearms against those who pose a direct threat to themselves or civilians. That is no excuse for the indiscriminate shooting of the past few days though. The protesters have not been heavily armed. The best the CRES can come up with is a couple of guys with pistols. As far as the evidence i've seen shows, none of the casualties from the latest bout of violence were armed with firearms. There was a highly worrying proportion of head shots.
    The government and its allies are in a mess of their own making. The emasculation of the police force following the PAD protests (and the pronouncements on that protest by current members of the government) have come back to haunt them. How could the government have cracked down earlier before the demonstrators were so well dug in without being accused of rank hypocrisy?

  112. Great article. Can't trust the press these days, everyone needs to read widely and different sources to find the real truth.

  113. Khun Somtow,

    I'd like to know where you got your facts from.

    Also, you have not addressed some other very relevant issues that I think the foreign press has also left out:

    - the reasons why the PM's Samak and Somchai were disqualified that lead to the parliamentary vote putting Abhisit in power
    - the 258 million baht donation to the democrat party that should disqualify them but the charge has conveniently taken 2 years to process
    - that the Majority of the Thai population are Red and have out-voted the democrats for the last two popular elections

  114. Reading things like this and knowing that there are people out there who refuse to get caught in the hype of the media and who really care about the whole truth (whether we want to hear it or not) always renews my hope in people.

    Thank you for writing this, it was very interesting and insightful.

  115. first of all.. I wanna say - BRAVO and nice picture... secondly I just want to be clear that the idea of CNN or the UN helping Thaksin is ridiculous for me as well... BUT, Dan does get on my nerves somehow... maybe because I am already biased and have already chosen a side. I am on Abhisit's side and my biased views may not be welcomed here, but just wanted to share. Okay, now about Dan... despite his six years here in thailand, Dan still needs a translator to cover his stories, meaning he hasn't even tried to know the country he was covering - and he lives here right on Wittayu Road. Another point is that the west was so moved by (maybe) the 60's rebelious era or CHe Guevara that they revere the act of people rising against state - and that is definitely NOT his fault and I truly believe he is professional enough to overlook that romantic western ideal.... but what i don't get with Dan is how can he overlook all the facts that he could have researched easily like the facts on Thaksin's election frauds... or his cases which involves changing laws and regulations and even over-riding the constitution to augment his family's assets... or how Abhisit was voted in by the same people in parliament as Thaksin's TWO nominees that preceeded him... or the fact that there are many confessions by reds who were caught red-handed with weapons of war??

    You also mentioned that press took news reporting and changed it into a "reality TV" with a good side and bad and I can see this in Dan as well... in fact I see it in the entire CNN reportings. To get ratings??? And advertizers? If so, Dan shows no responsibility what-so-ever in his reporting. If not, then maybe he does really believe in good and bad in politics. If so Dan is in another world outside the the real world where nothing is really THAT black and white.

    How can he even think Thaksin was "robbed" of his "democratically" acquired title??? When we've all heard of the money spent buying votes... You don't have to be from the rural area... just ask your office cleaner or apartment guard. It is common for them... if Dan spent more time learning Thai, he could probably hear the motorcycle taxis talk about it. Another thing is.. Dan loves to say the coup was illegal.. oh yes. i can agree with that...The coup was illegal.. so was the constitution which the coup leaders left behind to put a chain on Thaksin's TRT party ...that i KNOW... what i DON'T KNOW is how can the mob which raids hospitals and terrorize everyone who don't agree with them and even tried to scare an opposition mob from gathering be LEGAL in his eyes (during his earlier reports) how can they even be called a fighting force for democracy??? Just don't get these points..

    I also agree with you again when you said Abhisit is the key to change for us... BUT not in the fact that he was western educated or liberal... but that he truly believes in sustainability in all his policies.. he's not throwing fish at his people.... he is trying to teach them how to fish... his policies won't end with solving the immediate problems, but plans to allow for equal opportunity so problems will be solved permanently. In a way, both reds and yellows are either fighting for and against one person in their core believes. Abhisit is not fighting for or against one person .. I truly believe he is fighting to carry on - to immortalize - one great man's IDEA which could very likely be a way out for Thailand's problems - and this is the idea of sustainability... a sustainable Thailand which depends on itself more and more each day.

  116. This is so clear and articulated. Thank you for pointing it out. Please allow me to share!

  117. ThANKS FOR THE aNONIMOYS 1,2,3,4. Your analysis of the article (and to some extend to K.Somtow) is giving another side of the the article missing part.
    In my view, Apisit is nothing more than a hypocrite potician who swallow many of his own accusation to Somchai during the yellow shirt crisis.

  118. I must say this piece is full of bias. I agree that some of your views are correct, but your analysis is far from flawless. You cannot take some of the events that simple. Every side has its own purposes and reasons. And I believe some of them are pretty legitimate. What we are dealing with in Thailand's crisis is very controversial and ambiguous. You say early in the piece that "Reality was not - never is - so black and white," (line 11) but as far as your writing concerns, I see no rigid counter arguments. You are completely one-sided, leaving no space for opposing viewpoints, which in turn makes your arguments weak and unconvincing. I'd rather see you present more of the Red Shirts ideal concern with Thai politics and democracy. It definitely has flaw, but you seem to ignore those flaw all at once. Have you even considered or listened to what the Red Shirts have to say? If so, please include it, or else you leave the readers in doubt whether you have exposed yourself to every viewpoint or not.

    I believe CNN and BBC are giving their best efforts to report the situation as neutral as they can be. To me, I think one of the reasons Thai people are so pissed with them is that most of us have already chose side. And most of us who understand English choose to reside with the government. Sadly, we trust our government just because we all think people who choose to be on this side are those who have proper education, while the Red Shirts are poor people from rural area who are easily manipulated. Truth is, based on Thai people's character of believing rather than researching and analysizing, we all don't use our own thought and side with the one that we'll make us look good. Ironically, smart people, including you, who claim their superior to those Red Shirts, are also blindly believe what their side is saying.

    Please be more considerable. Look at the stories from every angle. Research every possible explanation and gather information before presenting any sensitive issues. With this article, you have exacerbated our critical situation for you have wrongly informed your readers. Make your own thesis. And please, don't be one-sided.

  119. All the info I collected until now has one interesting repeating point: Red shirts are talked about by Thais as if they are not Thai - in fact as if they are some kind of aliens trying to invade Thailand.

    This is the strangest thing for a farang indeed to understand. This is a remarkable point of view, because they are the rural population of Thailand, lowest income, lowest life expectation and most restricted possibilities to have a career, except for serving the rest of Thailand there is not much of a perspective. They feed the nation and make life in Bangkok possible but are widely looked down upon.

    Split into various superior thinking population groups, that reside on different segments of the social levels, seeming only to be happy when there is still another group below them, that is how I experience Thailand. This causes a society with a "kiss up, kick down" mentality, which is because of this attitude easily to bribe and which can be in fact not trusted.

    Based on pure materialistic values and own benefit orientated thinking, does in fact declare bankruptcy to Buddhism in Thailand and yes I understand when you write that this society will never grasp the essence of Spartacus as the West has difficulties to understand that this purely materialistic attitude is prevailing in a Buddhist country and cannot match reality with golden temples.

    Farang lady - living and working with Thais for 15 years - visiting Europe at the moment and follows CNN and BBC news - Facebook, Blogs and also http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/

  120. Dear Anonymous 2:10 am; the lengthy 4 part article makes many valid points and brings additional facts to bear that are in many cases undeniable. His analysis of me, however, is a bit off, since he makes the assumption that I come from a particular political standpoint, which I don't. In fact. he doesn't seem to to know anything about me except for assumptions he might make from a few superficial facts. Of the negative comments made so far it is one of the few where a lively debate would be possible and where each could, I think, learn something from the other.

    As for Mr. 2:24, I think the bias is basically all your own. I do feel that what I have said falls fairly squarely in the middle. I've explained in a different blog (the one called "Stereotypes") why my sympathies lie with both sides in this conflict. It is not only ideological but personal. I admire, and in some cases consider to be friends, leaders on both sides.

    I have in fact done exactly what you suggest I do in the final paragraph of your comment. That is the whole point of my blog. I assure you I have not chosen any side.

  121. One question, why CNN can't get the truth meanwhile another newspaper can, t.ex Al Jazeera??

  122. Thank you for a beautifully done article. It reflects a lot of our thinkings.

  123. I have a question to ask you. Why can't Dan Rivers get the truth while another media can? ex Al Jazeera. Their jounalist aren't thai either.

  124. Just remember that If this thing gets more nasty and turns into a civil war. Don't be on the wrong side of democracy, don't be against the masses, because it never ends well for those who are. If you want proof, just look at history.

  125. Dear Khun Somtow

    I'm Mr. 2:24
    Thank you for your explanation. I will consider it when I reread your article. I didn't mean to criticize your depiction (if you feel so, I beg my apology.) I applaud your effort to portray the truth, and I'm glad we have people like you trying to help our motherland.

    As of now, however, I still confirm my claim of flaws in your arguments. I admit that I have a little sympathy with the Red Shirts being treated unequal in the political stage. Anyway, thank you for warning me that I might be too bias myself. I'd like to suggest one great video, if you haven't watched it already. It is Woody show with guess speaker, ท่านว. วชิรเมธี. I love the analysis on the Four Bias, which can be applied to both sides. I also feel very patriotic after his suggestion for Thai people to sound their wisdom without fear or bias. Below is the link



  126. Will anyone ever tire of all the excuses? When will people start accepting blame? All fault doesn't rest on either side. Both share significant amounts of it. Why does the international press seem to have a tone in favor of the Red Shirts? Because the responsibility is on the government for it not to come to this. They need to be the adult, the moral authority, not acting with emotions on par to those who can reasonably claim disenfranchisement.

  127. Is this a joke?
    Relying on local media???
    Did you forget that all is censored and blogs are getting shut down by Thai government?

  128. Isn't it a bit racist to consider that all westerners think the same? Or maybe we farangs just all look alike to you?

  129. i agree on most of this.
    but still i see a lot of video's of killed protesters (without weapons)
    there are other ways to disperse a crowd.
    and i am sure that if there where a lot of video's of killed soldiers (by protesters) they would be on the web.
    the way a goverment now kills people says a lot about the level of deomcracy in your country.
    but that a media billionaire is not the right person to represent the poor looks very logic to me.

  130. I'd just like to thank Anonymous Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 for the insightful analysis. Although Khun Somtow has made some useful comments, particularly regarding the appetite of the Western media for democracy narratives, there are several ill-judged statements which are ostensibly put forward as facts when they are clearly open to question. For example, the Conservative-Lib Dem comparison is so superficial and glib as to be useless, while the notion that the yellow demonstrations had no impact on the political changes that occurred during the same period is disingenuous.

    The article unfortunately suffers from a patronising tone regarding forever-doomed-foreigners-who-will-never-be-able-to-understand-the-vigorously-guarded-subtleties-of-Thai-culture. The discussion of the 'Western mindset' viewing all third-world countries as all the same comes across as a cheap shot and as rather tired Said-speak, doesn't it? And, worse, it almost verges into reverse racism - or perhaps a deep desire that all Westerners DO actually view any people east of Europe as all the same so that Thai culture can never be properly understood except by a privileged ironic few?

  131. Thank you for posting this clarification for us.

  132. Dear Khun Somtow, a link to your blog was sent to me by a Bangkok resident farang with the comment "The article at this link is one of the more balanced views on current problems and how we got there." He did this because of the totally inadequate cover by the Australian press. I totally concur with his assessment - on the presumption English is not your native language many English speaking journalists would be well advised to study your essay for lessons in clarity, balance and authority. Wishing I could express myself as well.

  133. I agreed with most of your thoughts except this one:

    "...much of its content went far beyond any constitutionally acceptable limits of "protected speech" in a western democracy,"

    Not true. Although hate speech is illegal in Europe, it IS a protected speech in the USA. The First Amendment guarantees the right to freedom of expression even if it's incitement to crime. There have been numerous SCOTUS court cases pertaining to this very issue. Hundreds if not thousands of white supremacy groups advocating violence against minorties yet unless they actually commit physical crimes they can say/write whatever they want.

    "Every civilized society limits speech when it actually harms others, whether by inciting hate or by slander,"

    In the US, truth is absolute defense in slander and libel cases. If you can prove in the court of law that what you say/write is true, you cannot be sued for defamatory. If what you say or write is your opinion, you cannot be prosecuted because your speech is protected by the First Amendment. You're entitled to your opinion but you also have no rights not to be offended.

    USA suck at too many things to list here but our freedom of speech is hard to beat.

    Sam V.

  134. This is a breath of fresh air....a Thai who can reason and provides a balanced view.....thanks so much!

  135. Great article...very insightful.

    Thai Gov't completely fails a PR War, both on International level and domestic level. Otherwise, int'l media like CNN, BBC will not continue report one-side stories like this. They also fail to handle red-shirt propoganda wars.

    They should get all Expert Support like Taksin does when he hires Robert Amsterdam, which appears on CNN interviews and a few others.

    This is a very unprecedented case that gov't people just have no clue or experiences to handle!

    So sad for Thais!

  136. Agree with you totally, a reporter that sticks to the whole truth, not putting his/her own perception/conception into the story exists in the dreamland only. At the end of the day, most of them are like those paparazzi chasing after a scandalous love affairs, and we cannot blame this since most of us are hungry for it.

  137. Excellent article and insight for us who are non-Thais to understand a perspective different from CNN & BBC (unfortunately Al-Jazeera and CCTV are restricted in many places).

    What Abhisit and the Thai authorities need are a good PR agency. After all, what the world sees from afar is "news" packaged in an easily understood and packaged form.

  138. Good article somtow. I think evidence that your comments are on the mark will be when thaskins their western PR machine starts to respond with negative comments about your editorial. Points in case have already been listed.

    They will see it as a slant on their cause when in fact it is just a synopsis of the situation with no leaning one way or the other.

  139. Great article. Perhaps Dan Rivers should ask Jatuporn and Nathawut why they wear t-shirts with Gandhi and Glock respectively to enlighten us as Gandhi was assassinated by a person using a gun. Thank you.

  140. คุณสมเถาที่รักยิ่ง เราขอขอบคุณด้วยใจ :)

  141. Thanks for using your time writing this article and posting it. But in sum, it's a shallow interpretation of events.

  142. Great article, thanks. But no need to apologise for others bad journalism (you are so very Thai!).
    I have lived here for some time and most humbly apologise because I don't speak or understand Thai, but I can surely spot a villain when I see one!

    And the western Press need to be taken to task over this generally gross misreporting - as for sure, they helped fuel the reds beyond any sense of reality or reason.

    I think Abhisit's behaviour has been exemplary and it bodes well for Thailand and us all, Thai and others if he can stay, I certainly hope so!

  143. I'd like to post your news on our website, www.fnweb.com, however, to assure that the headline wouldn't take into totally different issue and create more confusion, may I just put the headline as "Sometow's Opinion on Foreign News" instead of "Don't Blame Dan Rivers"? However, your suggestion on the headline is mostly welcome ka.

  144. I am one of those Westerners you characterize as an uninformed, all-around bigot with a superiority complex. Here's how I break it down.

    The media always gets it wrong. Everywhere. It's difficult to cull it down to the point where everyone (lowest common denominator) understands or h*ll, even cares. You can't get people's attention long enough to explain world events sufficiently because it is human nature to worry more about our own surroundings. Unfortunately.

    Everyone is racially unjust. Everywhere. Japanese believe themselves superior to Koreans, English to Americans, Texans to Oklahomans, one sports team from another, employed to unemployed, and so on. It's not just the "first world."

    We are becoming a "one world" world. Everywhere. You're probably too young to remember, but there was a time when we all had to speak French to be listened to and respected on a global scale. It just happens to now be English. In the future it could be Chinese.

    We all believe in stories about the underdog. Everywhere. Long before western cultures developed, or liberated others after domination, cultures celebrated oral histories which are rife with the underdog theme. People's love of that structure is not because of reality shows or even the Greek dramatic structure.

    Was the story gathered incorrectly? It appears so. And thank you for the clarification from an insider's point of view. But don't blame it on those you perceive to be ignorant westerners or ignorant new gatherers. To say that is to show your ignorance of human nature as it exists...well, everywhere.

  145. Darunee: feel free to repost. Change the headline if you think it will cause confusion.

  146. Thank you for the fact, the truth is going to overcome the false news spreading by some bad journalists.

  147. Anonymous 2:10am parts 1,2,3,4 - Excellent, Thank you for filling many gaps in Khun Somtows argument.

  148. totally agree with what you said about information not being able to get through to foreign media. It is indeed a huge problem because even in Thailand the propaganda is so intense that even many Thai people don't even fully get the grip of what's going on let alone foreign reporters. If you turn to other channels like BBC, it must be noted that the recent footage of the clash between the red shirts and soldiers are ALL shot at "Bon Kai", the most extreme area in Bangkok.

    We must find a way to present other footages like the ones in "3 Liam Din Dang" where fully armed army officials were dragged down from their cars to be bashed by red shirts and yet refusing to shoot, and just simply let the protesters take away their guns.

  149. CNN should fire Dan Rivers and Sara Sidner and just replaced with iReporters.

  150. I found your article very interesting... thank you...
    However I strongly disagree with your assessment that "Thailand hasn't had an unbreachable gulf between rich and poor for at least 20 years' this is simply untrue, I lived in Thailand for many years and saw over and over Isaan people being treated as inferior because of their ethnicity and class.... there is a very real divide, only the smartest and most determined Isaan/upcountry people have any real success, while the upper and middle classes are able to skate through on money and privilege. The line between middle class and upper class is increasingly permeable, but not so for the lower classes... If there truly is no unbreachable gulf I dont think the red shirt leaders would have been able to summon so much support (regardless of monies apparently paid to protestors). Yes Abhisit seems a reasonable man, however could have helped to avoid this stand- off.... he did NOTHING to appease the very real concerns of the protestors when he took office. They have been given a taste of political influence by Thaksin, and rightly want more....
    Thailand is a very class based society and to pretend otherwise is a very blinkered view...

  151. Thanks so much ka, K. Somtow. Your article will be on this afternoon in our website ka.

  152. The article, though I disagree with some judgements in it, is at least refreshingly free of the hysteria that permeates the current Facebook rantings of the myopic Bangkok middle class.The chief error is the assumption that because of language and other cultural barriers,it is nearly impossible for even an educated Westerner to understand the current crisis.I wonder whether Somtow who I know to be a decent and civilised man is entirely comfortable with his article being so enthusiastically brandished now by some who lack the ability to take any kind of rounded view.

  153. I enjoy reading your article and the comments it generated very much krub. Thank you for this timely piece. I'm also glad to see that it is being circulated widely on the internet through emails and web links.
    Best wishes,
    Vara-Poj Snidvongs

  154. I think the fact that the red-yellow debate has become so polarised is the very thing that is making it hard to be unbiased. When the only points of reference you have are extreme viewpoints it is hard to place yourself in the centre.

    The western media coverage may not be perfect, but is certainly less biased than some of the bizarre rumours that swirl around the red stage and TV stations.

    Equally your blog entry could be argued for or against, but is at least taking a more balanced view than some of the Thai Government statements and reports in the Thai print media.

    We need to bring this debate back to the centre and this blog and the responses to it are a step in the right direction.

  155. Hey thanks for the update from all of us here in HK, as we never know what is really going on.

  156. Hey Somtow, thanks for the article.

    Thai's generally seem to believe that anyone who is not Thai is impossible of understanding the intricacies of the Thai political landscape regardless of what they may or may not know. In some ways (particularly in regards to language issues)it could be true.

    Pulling out the "race card" because the international media is reporting in a way you do not agree with is tiresome, uninspired and irresponsible. Disregarding some of the real problems in Thailand and how they are reported as a "foreign misconception" only adds to the problems for Thailand and is why it might never be solved.

    A few glowing omissions from your time line:

    -the dissolution of the democratically elected government in Dec 2008
    -the fact that the military brought Abhist to power by bribing PPP officials to change to the democrats after they lost the election in 2007
    -this precedence of getting what you want from protests and "take overs" was set when the "yellows" took over the international airport in nov 2008 and succeeded with there demands.
    -the Democrat party is currently being dissolved for corruption.

    You have certainly proved the media bias from Thailand, thanks for that. Maybe this is just my moral superiority talking...

    Point fingers all you want, but only Thai's can help Thailand and only Thai's are responsible for what is happening in Thailand. The sooner reality is identified and dealt with the better for everyone.

    By the way, are you writing your "insiders point view" from your house in LA? I can hear gunfire from my apartment, see soldiers shooting marching up the BTS track and cannot leave at the moment. Who's the insider?

  157. Thank you ka Khun Somtaw. In that case, CNN should send somebody else to replace him.

  158. How can a consitution drafted by the militiary elects, and approved by the referendum during the Coup led government be by the people and for the people. The people of this government has nothing to do with the Coup, this is an out right lie. This article is nothing but a counter media proposal by the PAD to make it okay to kill all the Red Buffaloes who dare to ask for their civil rights and a rule of law. One man, one vote, no more, no less. It is always better to deal with assholes that are elected than tyrants and dictators.

  159. I've no idea why you would suggest the military haven't been shooting anyone except in self defence. There's enough photographic evidence of snipers in action and so on and so forth.

    Seh Daeng was being interviewed by the NYT when he was assassinated. Maybe that was a public relations blunder that coloured the view of international reporters?

  160. Excellent article and good discussion.

    I have been down to the demo site many times. It always surprised and disappointed me that there was no serious political debate. I have been involved with grassroots organisations in Thailand for 20 years now. A key characteristic of public events has been to provide a platform for debate, for diverse opinions to be given space.
    At Rajaprasong the stage only managed to present the same slogans - of course I may have missed something. But it also struck me that taking a rope out and graphically demonstrating how to strangle Abhisit, along with committing to fight to the end while wearing a Gandhi T shirt was all a bit odd

  161. Fantastic analysis of how language and propaganda can distort the real facts.

  162. Very good article and very objective. But I agree with some of the other comments, that Dan Rivers or any other journalist should do their homework properly. That's what journalist are supposed to do, and not report randomly THINKING they understand the situation. They HAVE to understand the situation and/or have a local help them clarify it. But you are right that it is all a sense of PERCEPTION, as to how it is reported. But thank you for a very interesting view point.

  163. Thank you for your great effort in writing for many more people in different places who follow your posting.

    Only one comment from me.

    Judging from his work from the past, this foreign journalist who has been staying in Thailand for that long period, we would have no doubt that he has been paid not only by CNN to perform his duty.

  164. What if today's killing and injuring of foreign journalists have something to do with the huge smearing campaign against the international press that's currently going on in Thailand, with the not-so-silent approval of the government and the backing of some of the main local news providers?

  165. I take issue with your depiction of westerners. I happen to think Abhisit is a very capable and well-educated person, even if he was not elected in an ordinary election. I take issue with your boring, tired postmodernist suggestion that westerners see all developing countries as inherently inferior and that as westerners we cannot help it, because after all it is ingrained in our psyche. I’ll quote this here, so you do not try to backtrack on the matter: “there is, in the western mindset, a deeply ingrained sense of the moral superiority of western culture which carries with it the idea that a third world country must by its very nature be ruled by despots, oppress peasants, and kill and torture people. Most westerners become very insulted when this is pointed out to them because our deepest prejudices are always those of which we are least aware. I believe that there is a streak of this crypto-racism in some of the reportage we are seeing in the west. It is because of this that Baghdad, Yangon, and Bangkok are being treated as the same thing. We all look alike.” By your logic, as a westerner, it appears I am forced to believe that third world countries are by their very nature ruled by despots, oppressed peasants, etc. If I am insulted by this suggestion that I am indeed a “crypto-racist” and my denial of these facts must be proof of my guilt. Therefore, whatever you say about what is ingrained in my psyche must be true. Furthermore, I cannot decipher the difference between the gulf wars, the Vietnam War, and Bangkok’s red shirt protests, because after all, all Asians and middle easterners look alike and act alike (and where is Thailand anyways- me stupid, me not know). Look, Thailand is superficially open to foreigners, but Thai people rarely tell foreigners what is on their mind. I have tried to engage in conversation with Thai people in Thai and in English concerning the political situation for the last year and few people want to actually express their opinion or talk about facts (Yes, I do speak Thai, but I am sure that I do not understand it as well as a native Thai). Thai people who do share their opinions seem to be grossly uninformed and I have never rarely heard a Thai person mention the points (by the way, are those citations or your personal opinions) that you have addressed. However, I have heard many westerners living in Thailand bring up the points you mentioned, which proves what? Does it prove that this handful of westerners has the ability to understand the coveted information you have so poignantly provided for us? Could it be that you have over-generalized and unfairly insulted other peoples’ intelligence in your writing? You have essentially said that we cannot understand you and that we are ignorant and perhaps stupid when it comes to all matters that are Thai (do you think this is an over-generalization?). While I agree that Thai is a very ambiguous language, I learned to read, write, and speak Thai very well within a year and I admit that although there are many things in Thai culture and language that I do not yet understand, I still believe that Thai and Thai culture is intelligible from a western perspective. As an anthropologist, I try to look at other countries as shaped and developed according to their own history and at the same time shaped by global interaction. Everyone is constrained by his or her society’s particular history and the models of thought prevalent in their society, and societies should not be judged according to the standards of other societies. I see Thailand's version of democracy as inherently flawed, just as all democracies are inherently flawed. As I watch CNN today (May 19th, 2010), I do not see CNN as painting any particular picture. My advice is to strip your writing of your bias and over-generalizations about westerners’ ability to understand the current situation in Thailand (crypto-racist) and assert logical arguments instead. Your finer points are overshadowed by your insults. One final thing: “Stockholm syndrome?” Do some research.

  166. 10:32 Anonymous: I totally, completely agree with you.

  167. I take issue with your depiction of westerners. I happen to think Abhisit is a very capable and well-educated person, even if he was not elected in an ordinary election. I take issue with your boring, tired postmodernist suggestion that westerners see all developing countries as inherently inferior and that as westerners we cannot help it, because after all it is ingrained in our psyche. I’ll quote this here, so you do not try to backtrack on the matter: “there is, in the western mindset, a deeply ingrained sense of the moral superiority of western culture which carries with it the idea that a third world country must by its very nature be ruled by despots, oppress peasants, and kill and torture people. Most westerners become very insulted when this is pointed out to them because our deepest prejudices are always those of which we are least aware. I believe that there is a streak of this crypto-racism in some of the reportage we are seeing in the west. It is because of this that Baghdad, Yangon, and Bangkok are being treated as the same thing. We all look alike.”By your logic, as a westerner, it appears I am forced to believe that third world countries are by their very nature ruled by despots, oppressed peasants, etc. If I am insulted by this suggestion that I am indeed a “crypto-racist” and my denial of these facts must be proof of my guilt. Therefore, whatever you say about what is ingrained in my psyche must be true. Furthermore, I cannot decipher the difference between the gulf wars, the Vietnam War, and Bangkok’s red shirt protests, because after all, all Asians and middle easterners look alike and act alike (and where is Thailand anyways- me stupid, me not know). Look, Thailand is superficially open to foreigners, but Thai people rarely tell foreigners what is on their mind. I have tried to engage in conversation with Thai people in Thai and in English concerning the political situation for the last year and few people want to actually express their opinion or talk about facts (Yes, I do speak Thai, but I am sure that I do not understand it as well as a native Thai). Thai people who do share their opinions seem to be grossly uninformed and I have never rarely heard a Thai person mention the points (by the way, are those citations or your personal opinions) that you have addressed. However, I have heard many westerners living in Thailand bring up the points you mentioned, which proves what? Does it prove that this handful of westerners has the ability to understand the coveted information you have so poignantly provided for us? Could it be that you have over-generalized and unfairly insulted other peoples’ intelligence in your writing? You have essentially said that we cannot understand you and that we are ignorant and perhaps stupid when it comes to all matters that are Thai (do you think this is an over-generalization?). While I agree that Thai is a very ambiguous language, I learned to read, write, and speak Thai very well within a year and I admit that although there are many things in Thai culture and language that I do not yet understand, I still believe that Thai and Thai culture is intelligible from a western perspective. As an anthropologist, I try to look at other countries as shaped and developed according to their own history and at the same time shaped by global interaction. Everyone is constrained by his or her society’s particular history and the models of thought prevalent in their society, and societies should not be judged according to the standards of other societies. I see Thailand's version of democracy as inherently flawed, just as all democracies are inherently flawed. As I watch CNN today (May 19th, 2010), I do not see CNN as painting any particular picture. My advice is to strip your writing of your bias and over-generalizations about westerners’ ability to understand the current situation in Thailand (crypto-racist) and assert logical arguments instead. Your finer points are overshadowed by your insults. One final thing: “Stockholm syndrome?” Do some research.

  168. Dear Khun Somtow,

    Thank you very much for sharing your ideas I really appreciated knowing different view on red shirt issue.
    However, I have some point of views and perspective that I would like to share as well. The reason why red shirt people used English language signs is because they wanted the world to know that their isn't any justice left in Thailand. About two years ago when yellow shirt created turmoil inside no yellow shirts were punished, althoght what these people did were far more crazier than red shirts; like seigning the Parliament house and the Don Muang and Suvanaphum airport. Now please tell me what would be the consequence of these actions if they had been commited in the western democracy world? Red shirts people have the right to choose their leader. The institution that alleged the last two parties of election fraud was established by the coup military and their sole purpose was to get rid of ex-prime minister Thaksin. This is not the first time in Thailand that the military came in power,it had happen so many times before and everytime it did the constitution was changed. The October and April incidents gave a clear manifestation. Students and cilivilians were shot to death and not a single authoritive insitution or the military was charged against these crime.
    The present government did not learn from history. They are inviting the military force to do the same. Now the question is if the soldiers did not kill red shirt and civilians who could have killed them? Who then holds the weapon of mass destruction if Red shirts are defenseless. If the soldier planed to attack protester's ground how can they be in self-defense mode? I discovered that news can be distorted. The one thing that is very clear is that the government are underestimating red shirts, they thought by killing some would scare all the protesters away. It turn out that more red shirt gathered and some turn to underground attacks. Not a very wise decision for the government to use oppresive power with red shirts.
    People from provinces around Thailand are gathering in Bangkok today to claim democracy back and justice. I would like to leave with one of the quote I have found while reading a book "In the end we will not remember the voice of our enemy but the silence of our friends".

    Anonymous 11

  169. My Thai partner just passed your esssay along to me and it was thrilling to read. You do a superb job of identifying multiple layers conspiring to complicate presentation of the current Thai context to the outer world.

    The fact that your blog has drawn such extensive comment is an indication that you've chosen the right scope and exposed the right set of interrelated phenomena. And I would agree with your professor that you write like an angel-- but in this case you have painted a totally representational portrait.

    Unfortunately in some people's eyes, tackling political / social matters requires putting a caption under every single artistic element. The inability to detect irony or to draw the full picture from the sketch is a flaw of the onlooker-- not the creater.

  170. Look what he replied when someone told him to be more balanced... http://twitpic.com/1owwrx

  171. Thank you for an insightful, critical analysis.

  172. Good post.

    I think another point that could be in portant isNewin Chidchob and "friends". This is important in understanding both how Abhisit came to power and why many of the people who were represented by newin and friends are so angry (I believe it's about 4-5 million people?).

  173. You have got YOUR facts wrong: How on earth was the magna carta something to do with "liberation"? It was about the permanent annexation of England by French Normans and political justification for it. Scares me that you are some kind of pseudo-intellectual - the most dangerous kind. Can I trust your facts and how YOU have slanted yours?
    P.S. Your pleas that you are 'neutral' is so clearly wrong. Be honest.

  174. Dear Anonymous: yes of course the Magna Carta had nothing to do with liberation. I did not say it did. I said that people today frequently refer it it as though it were about liberation. Just as people say that the Civil War was about abolitionism, which did not in fact become an issue right away. People impose this view on historical events whether it fits or not. That is my point.

  175. With much respect, I have to disagree with you on this. Dan Rivers should not have the get-out-of-jail-free card just because he is a foreigner. Residing in Thailand that long and representing a news organization that large should not let him reports on things by assuming many things, let alone the fact that he distorted many details to create this David VS. Goliath kind of story. This is not a retribution, but a correction that is necessary for Thailand and CNN.

  176. I don't understand how bad reporting on their part would all of sudden become our mistakes not theirs!!

    To quote what you have said "Don't blame Dan Rivers, et al, who are only doing what they are paid to do: find the compelling story within the mass of incomprehensible data, match that story to what the audience already knows and believes, and make sure the advertising money keeps flowing in"

    This doesn't even make any sense. What happend to an ethics of reporting??!! Dan Rivers is just plain irresponsible. I know that there are enough English speaker in Thailand who can give him a view from the different side.

    It is his ignorance and irresponsibilty that lead people to get the wrong idea about the situation. It is not anyone's jobs to do research to get a better understanding because most people would expect the reporter to do that for them!!! If he can't do it right for whatever reason, he should just quit!!!

  177. Is it me or the only constructive comments here are provided by foreigners, while most Thais who contributed to this thread completely misinterpreted it as some sort of conservative pro-yellow, anti-foreigner manifesto?

  178. The soldiers have not shot anyone at all except in self-defence? This one sentence alone shows your article to be skewed and disingenuous. Unfortunately, your poetic language and superior tone cannot shroud from sight the flimsiness of many of your statements.

  179. 2:24 pm: I appreciate this comment very much. This is NOT a conservative, pro-yellow, anti-foreigner manifesto. Indeed, a lot of Thais view me as a foreigner.

    2:37 perhaps "anyone at all" is an overstatement, but it doesn't really undermine the basic premises, which is that the claims of wildly killing women and children are mostly of the "when did you stop beating your wife" variety. The soldiers have been given clear instructions only to shoot in self defense and they largely seem to have been obedient. Otherwise, you know as well as I do that this would be like the Amritsar Massacre, perpetrated by the British. That's what an ACTUAL despotic slaughter of innocents looks like. Not this.

  180. great article. About time someone who is immersed in both worlds speaks up. Hope this will attract lots of readers and set the record straight.

  181. Well, no. Just because there has not been an all-out massacre does not mean that the army has been acting in self-defence. An argument of extremes if I ever saw one. Clearly the soldiers have been told to advance in stages and to avoid excessive casualties, but there are several eye-witness reports and videos of soldiers firing indiscriminately at protestors when the soldiers are not being attacked in such a way that their lives are threatened. Perhaps the soldiers are jittery and scared, but this does not mean that they are acting in self-defence.

    I guess Amnesty International simply got their report wrong, did they?

  182. "-- the parliamentary process by which the Democrat coalition came to power was the same process by which the Lib Dems and Tories have attained power in Britain. The parliament that voted in this government consists entirely of democratically elected members." dixit Khun Somtow
    To my knowledge this is not true , MP's of the 'opposition' were bribed and, changed 'color' and subsequently joined the 'democrats'. They now fear not to be re-elected, so they seem to change positions. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    (said Khun Joop, ประเทศเนเธอร์แลนด์
    aka 'anonymous')

  183. As a foreigner who has visited Thailand many times but doesn't speak fluent Thai, I am one of those you consider naive. Do we mindlessly listen to CNN? Are we projecting the third-world on to every story we hear? No. Think about who the foreigner is who pays even a slight attention to news coming out of Thailand- he or she has probably visited the region and seen what every camera-touting tourist sees. We see the hi-so walking through Siam Paragon while children walk through night markets without shoes. We are not stupid- we know that wealth inequalities exist in every country. But we don't believe for a minute that "Thailand hasn't had an unbreachable gulf between rich and poor for at least 20 years". We see parties elected, then barred conveniently. We see politicians removed for cooking on television. There is a very big seed of doubt in the upper class's commitment to democracy. We remember 1973. And 1976. And 1992. We saw military snipers in Bangkok in the last week. Please consider that many of the foreigners you criticize are just observing and trying to understand the crisis out of a deep concern for Thailand. While every country has its share of internal problems, this situation, from our view, still appears to be a class-struggle. Clearly, from the voting results of the past ten years, most Thais would agree with me.

  184. Your review is somewhat true, but I am happy about the reporting coz thais are crazy about farang, their believe "anything farang is the truth" Thais dont believe in themselves look at the way the whole situation was handle. thais better believe in urselves and stop looking down on ur neighbours are you will get what you deserve.

  185. Hi I 'm Thierry. I live in Bangkok

    I would agree with much of what you say, but your depiction of Thailand as a normal democracy is rosy to say the least.

    Yes, Abhisit got the PM job thanks to normal parliamentary procedures but, in Britain, would the army broker the defection of Clegg and would the coalition parties's fealty be bought by giving them the profitable ministries and departments, leading to successive corruption scandals and embarrassments.

    I'd think that foreigners' perception of Thailand as a corrupt and abnormal country and dysfunctional democracy can be developed from reading ... The Nation. That's how this happened to me.

  186. Dear Thierry: this is all quite true. A few days ago I wrote in greater depth about this and made some of the points you made. I've said that Thailand's democracy is approximately in the "rotten borough" stage (i.e. early 19th century) ... which isn't bad considering it's only had about 80 years to develop from scratch. One can't everything in the space of 500 words ... :(

  187. Dear, you have a right to say nothing, you should speak out nothing, until you will know the fact. Please!!!!
    Becasue of this is a very seriously and it is concerned with strictly country's security & individual politics' stablility.

    Voice of Thai Citizen

  188. Dear Khun Somtow..
    I totally agree with almost what you wrote thought, in my opinion, Dan River still lacks of responsibility and morality to be a, what you can call, good news reporter. Being a foreigner who doesn't understand Thai language is, in my opinion, not an excuse to portray the news as he seems fit especially he is working for a big news channel like CNN.
    But thanks for writing this. And I'm sending this to my foreign friends. Hope you dont mind.

  189. What does one of Thailand's leading writers choose to talk about?
    The fact that we don't have a functioning police force and an army that retains way too much power?
    A justice system that appears to be biased and broken?
    That we have Politicans without policies who ensure power by buying the votes of a population deprived of a decent education?

    No. Let's concentrate on the fact that CNN has reported the conflict badly and that foreigners know nothing of the situation in Thailand.

    I would have thought that the local press and people would concern you more. Are we discussing the real root cause of this unrest or are we happy to simply blame Thaksin?
    Thaksin didn't cause this rift in society, he just used it to gain power. If these people hadn't been ignored except to be bought off every election then he wouldn't have had the power base in the first place.

    If Thai people want real change and long term stability then it's no longer enough to play Carabao, wave a flag and swear allegance and love for the King.

    Intelligent and eloquent people such as yourself would be of better use convincing these flag-waving nationalists that if they truly do love their country then it's up to them to pressure for change.

    Dan Rivers is irrelevant. The local media however have a huge responsibility in helping to promote change.

  190. Dear Beady, Your point is well taken indeed and I've addressed many of these issues in other articles in this blog. The constant revisionism and historical amnesia are one of the reasons we are in this situation. However, that post happened to be about one specific topic, as are most of the other posts in my blog. Perhaps one day I'll write a book about it, but it probably won't sell as well as my STAR TREK novel did. :(

  191. Dude, this is spot on. I really wish the wetsern press were more capable, but as usual, I am sadly disappointed

  192. Absolutely great comment! Is CNN an BBC reading this? I hope!!!

  193. Excellent analysis! And I say that as a farang who is making his best effort to master Thai.

  194. The problem is that the heriditary elite are actually trying to get the people to fight each other. The people are buying it hook, line and sinker. They want instability so they can play their power games and make money off the stock market fluctations. There may not be many Thais getting enriched by this but there are definitely external parties making a quiet killing. Not to mention the potential for arms sales to both sides once the civil war gets fully underway. In addition having Thailand descend into full scale internal conflict increases instability in all of South Asia which makes it easier for external forces to create more instability in the neighbouring countries. Who shot the Army generals? Soemone who knew what they were doing and had excellent timing. Doesn't exactly scream Thai organisational skills now does it?

    We are coming up to a period of world wide instability. The energy crisis is meeting the population crisis is meeting the employment crisis is meeting the sea level rise crisis. Throw water, food and resource shortages into the mix. We are getting closer to the tipping point every day. CNN is well aware of this problem and the owners have vested interests in promoting the instability in third world countries with confusing propaganda to keep the numbers they use to sell their advertising up while the remaining resources are gobbled up by the first company/nation that gets to use them.

    Corporations want the instability because it knocks down the value of the Thai market, Western media want it because it keeps peoples minds off how bad things are in their own countries.

    Dan Rivers and CNN, BBC are blatently pushing this mindless reporting on their audience. Don't blame Dan, he's just doing his job.

  195. Hello Somtow
    Just wondering - do international postings get through the screening? I sent 2 comments about 3 hours ago.

  196. A good news reporter means this person must be able to deliver a true story of what is really happening in the situation.
    Language barrier is not a problem! It's a news reporter's responsibility to do more research on related issues that they want to know and report them clearly!!!
    Therefore, if Dan Rivers believes that he's not able to deliver a true story and fail to understand Thai's culture and language. Then, i believe Dan Rivers isn't suitable for this situation!