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Unethical Thai journalists should be ashamed of themselves

In contemporary history, Thailand has experienced more military coups than any other country. But the one that took place in September 2006 when the Thai military staged a coup d'état against the elected government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has divided people into two main groups; the yellow and red. Now in 2015, the country is under military rule again. The National Council for Peace and Order (the junta's official name) has banned all opposition and criticisms of the junta’s orders and detained and arrested a number of the reds, who have been supporting the elected government and electoral democracy.

At present, the most common method to put anyone in jail in Thailand is to accuse the person for violating lèse majesté laws, one of the strictest laws in the world. Lèse majesté laws are supposed to protect the royal family from defamation, but in practice they have been used as a vicious political tool. What’s scary is anyone can make an accusation of insulting the monarchy. That is how the red leaders and people who have opposed the coup are and can be arrested without having said anything bad about the monarchy.

On 3 February 2015, a news agency named ‘T News’ http://www.tnews.co.th which is a 24-hour TV channel owned by a yellow leader, broadcast the news of six people being held for membership in the "Banpodj Thailand network” which, according to the authorities, have plots to overthrow the monarchy.  Banpodj published information by producing video clips and articles. Materials were propagated through Facebook, blogs, and YouTube. The news reported that nobody knew who Banpodj was but T News Agency investigated and concluded that Dr.Tanet, my father, is the one!

The agency stated that apart from the similarity of the voices, my dad was seen in a number of political demonstrations and other activities with the reds. T News simply played one of Banpodj’s voice clips and then my dad’s voice at a press conference and said the voices are similar.  Therefore, they concluded, this is the same person. The Agency reported that “Tanet is Banpodj,” but after many people argued against such a statement, about 3 hours later, the sentence was changed to “Banpodj and Tanet may be the same person.”

T News Agency published my dad’s biography and claimed to be seeing him as one of the red leaders. My dad is a professor at the faculty of Political Science at Chiang Mai University, a top university of the Northern Region, and he is knowledgeable in history, education, and local affairs and culture. He has been invited in various occasions to talk about Thai politics and democracy, therefore he is well known in public and among the reds. T News also claimed that he has been rewarded by the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to become an advisor of the Minister of Education during Yingluck’s elected government which I find this very offensive because my dad earned his doctorate, did researches on education, and moreover the professorship in Thailand needed the King’s approval. 

I cannot believe this news agency would do such a terrible thing. Where are their journalism’s ethics? A news agency investigated a lèse majesté law case by comparing a mysteriously modified voice with a real person’s voice? My dad was accused to be violating lèse majesté laws because he has a low voice and his profile got published by this unethical journalist team. People are still sharing this false report across the internet with negative comments towards my dad. Other news agencies are reposting this. Therefore, people nationwide are misunderstanding my innocent dad and calling for him to be put in jail. I hope this article brings justice to my family.