Thaksin would set up thought police: Supinya
If the Thaksin Shinawatra administration had its way, it would even ban citizens' right to think, media-reform campaigner Supinya Klangnarong said yesterday.
Supinya and the Thai Post newspaper were on Wednesday acquitted of libel charges in a Bt420-million defamation suit filed in the Criminal court by Shin Corp, which was until January owned by the prime minister's family.
The charges stemmed from her statement published in the newspaper that the premier and the telecom giant enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship.
Speaking at a symposium organised by the Thai Journalists' Association, Supinya said that though her legal battle had been about freedom of speech, a lot of obstacles remained that prevented the media and citizens from expressing themselves freely. This was because of the government's control of broadcast media and abuse of libel law, she said.
Kannikar Viriyakul, a writer and managing director of the Thai Post and one of the five acquitted together with Supinya, said libel suits remained a formidable weapon in the hands of the government to silence and intimidate its critics.
Kannikar said the court ruling on Wednesday had been just the beginning of a victory for the media and the people and the struggle continued as the Thai Post still faced nearly 10 libel suits filed by Thaksin, his family members and senior figures in his Thai Rak Thai Party.
At one point, she said, her husband had even proposed getting a legal divorce to save their house from being confiscated in case the numerous court cases went from bad to worse.
Kannikar said the paper had been right to question the premier as more and more people were now doubting Thaksin's legitimacy and honesty. She said Thai Post had lost respect for the premier when he tried to hide his assets five years ago and claimed innocence. Thaksin is not the saint many still believe him to be, she said.
"He's a Satan, as the [high-school] students in shorts dubbed him," said Ubon Ratchathani Senator Nirun Phitakwatchara.