I am a well-educated man, a former journalist, a literary translator. I am French, have lived in Thailand for nearly half of my life so far, grown roots here, begotten a daughter who’s a practising associate lawyer with a future, and consider this country as my own, even though I’m yearly reminded I’m here on sufferance, supposed to report to authorities every ninety days on a yearly visa, and denied the basic rights of voting and opening my gob on what goes on here. My work of the last sixteen years, thanks to the sponsorship of my friend and boss Sondhi Limthongkul, has resulted in unprecedented recognition of Thai literature in the western world. Who cares?
As a former journalist and a free mind, I’ve tried to keep abreast of political developments in Thailand through all manner of outlets: the press, the internet, private talks, lizards on the wall. I occasionally suffer the Thai TV mind-numbing fare, occasionally also indulge in yellow ASTV and, lately, red PTV. It takes some mettle. I read the Post, from editorials to cartoons, every morning and The Nation online all day long for news breaks. For years, to keep informed in a challenging, intelligent way, I’ve regularly consulted on the World Wide Web political websites and blogs, selected after a lengthy process, such as Political Prisoners, Prachatai, New Mandala, Bangkok Pundit, FACT and Thai Crisis, which remind you that there are still men who think straight, for all their quirks.
Save for New Mandala, which might be next, they all, along with PTV, have been banned by the benighted powers that be of this land in the last couple of months – along with tens of thousands of other blogs and websites.
Give me a break, man. It’s such a hassle having to find programs that allow you to bypass local censorship, but bypassing it I must, to keep my self-respect and balanced views.
What motivates this posting is this: I’ve spent the last couple of days virtually enslaved to the TV screen watching the no-confidence debate in the House after the events we know, while trying to go through 140,000 words of a translation of mine – going to bed after 2 am last night to hear what the redshirt firebrand, Jatuporn Promphan, had to rant about, now that he’s back in parliament from his murderous capers in Ratchaprasong and before his arrest later today.
I cringed at his lies and insults.
But cringed even more at the treatment he received in that hallowed institution, where all sides are supposed to get equal treatment to establish the truth: none of the video clips and photographs he presented to state his muddled case was decipherable by the TV audience (I checked on both channels broadcasting them), even though those clips and pictures had been cleared for viewing by some parliamentary subcommittee – never mind that this was institutional preliminary censorship: they didn’t zoom on them, you see, and we saw nothing. All video clips and photos by the government side, on the other hand, were splendidly broadcast.
Self-defeating double standards.
By refusing to highlight his pathetic evidence, the powers that be gave him credence in the eyes of his supporters. No wonder Jatuporn was smirking.