Self-exiled journalist clarifies allegation that his report caused SET to plunge

Jom Petpradab, a self-exiled journalist, who was accused of spreading the rumour about the Thai King’s health which caused the Thai stock market to plunge, revealed that the rumour may have come from his report citing an anonymous source in the palace.

Jom said in a statement released on Wednesday that he was very upset and worried with the allegation from the junta that he spread the rumour which caused the biggest single-day loss in six years at the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET).

On Tuesday, Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd, Army and government spokesman, said the rumour about the King’s health was spread by Jom, who is now living in self-exile in the US after he was summoned by the military junta.   

Jom said the troublesome story entitled “The inside story of the divorce between the Crown Prince and Mom Srirasmi,” published on Thai Voice Media website on 13 December, was initiated because he noticed that most of the public have sympathy for the former royal consort, so he intended to correct popular misunderstanding about the divorce.

“I did talk with high level sources in the palace. I presented the story because it will give the people a correct understanding about facts that happened in the royal family, which have been of great interest to the public. Moreover, it will give the people a better understanding about the Crown Prince,” stated the veteran journalist.

Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn recently divorced his royal consort, Srirasmi, after a series of the arrests of Srirasmi’s siblings and relatives for claiming his name in corruption cases and other crimes.

The report allegedly cited an anonymous source in the palace who said that this was done in preparation for the succession. 

“The Thai monarchy has been constructed to be the heart of Thai people and is the centre of Thainess. It is challenged by the new culture of society which stresses questioning, checks and balance, and criticism. This is inevitable,” said Jom, adding that as a journalist he could not avoid reporting the issue, but he did so with good intentions for the sustainability and stability of the monarchy.

Jom is a former TV journalist and programme host at ITV and later NBT. After the coup in 2006, he caused an uproar among pro-establishment Thais when he flew to Hong Kong to interview controversial former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. After the uproar from the anti-Thaksin camp, the programme was cancelled. Again in 2009, after his live interview with the former Prime Minister, he was pressured to resign from hosting the programme.

In 2014, after he was summoned by the military junta, he fled Thailand to live in the US where he founded Thaivoicemedia.com, a web-based Thai media outlet in exile, which has been blocked by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology. 

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