August 2, 1999

Secretariat of the Prime Minister
Government Spokesman Bureau
Government House
Bangkok 10300

Dear Ms. Cooper,

I wish to refer to your letter dated July 15 1999, concerning the unexpected act of intimidation against the Thai Postnewspaper by Deputy Prime Minister Trairong Suwankiri’s private secretary during the night of Tuesday 13 July 1999.

We have brought your concerns to the attentions of HE Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai and I have subsequently been asked to make the following clarification regarding the Government’s position:

The Government has never nor will it ever support the settlement of a dispute by means of violence. Intimidation, whether verbal or through the use of force, is not used, condoned, nor supported by the Government and should not be used by elected politicians who have pledged to serve their people and country. As public figures, politicians have to learn to cope with different types of people, to patiently accept criticism, and to show flexibility when appropriate. At the same time, however, they should also uphold their principles and the rule of law.

Today, Thailand is regarded as having one of the freest press in Southeast Asia and in the world. We respect the international journalist ethics, which means that the media has the freedom to express their opinions, to criticize or comment on any topic permitted under the present Constitution. Indeed, as Thailand is fast developing into a regional and an international center for news services, the Government is pleased to welcome views and opinions from not only the public but also the Thai and international media.

As for this alleged incident, the Government has not hesitated to take action by asking for a written clarification from Mr. Trairong Suwankiri although we are aware that this might lead to discrepancies and other contending reports about the actual event. The Government, however, wishes to reiterate once again our firm commitment to the rule of law. We do respect the rights of the media to exercise its voice and opinion. The media, however, should also show respect for others as well–this, because we believe the media should exercise self-control, which should be the best mechanism to ensure the media as a whole becomes more responsible and ethical in their practices.

Again, it is our sincere hope that this incident will be the last.

Yours sincerely,

Akapol Sorasuchart
Government Spokesman

For further information, contact Kavita Menon at CPJ, 330 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10001, U.S.A., tel: (212) 465-1004 (x140), fax: (212) 465-9568, e-mail: [email protected]

Click Here to read CPJ’s original protest letter to the Thai government.

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