Western press just doesn't get it

your say March 02, 2013 00:00

Re: Translation of a letter in French to Le Monde in reference to the article "L'Ombre des 'chemises rouges'" ("Shadows of the red shirts"), February 24- 25, by Bruno Philip, Bangkok correspondent.


The biased view of the article, as in much of Western reportage on Thailand, needs correction. I will only illustrate a few points.
The military coup of 2006 was bad enough, as inferred in the article, but it was nothing like the red-shirt riots in 2010. Numerous rocket-propelled grenades rained on military and civilian targets, killing and injuring people. The main hospital in the downtown area was stormed by the red shirts. Vivid scenes of babies in incubators and patients being evacuated from the hospital were downplayed by the Western media. Worse, the horrendous burning of Bangkok’s central business district and city halls in the provinces were soon forgotten by the Western press. A red-shirt leader who instigated the mob to torch the buildings is now a Cabinet minister. In contrast, in London not so long ago, when a smaller riot took place and buildings were put to the torch, the culprits were immediately arrested and put in jail, not in parliament.
The article cited 92 fatalities in the sad events of 2010. However it fails to mention that the number includes military personnel and other non-red shirts.
The article also tries to involve the King, putting him in the same camp as the military (at present controlled by the ruling government) and the Bangkok elite. In this regard it should be noted that the King has publicly declared that he is not above criticism and that he is against the lese majeste law, which he regards as detrimental to the institution. He even proposed that those arrested or jailed because of this law should be released. The question now must be why the present red-shirt government does nothing about it.
Sumet Jumsai
Cambridge University