PM’s tinpot dictatorship hiding double standards-Prachatai

April 11, 2010

Abhisit’s Dictatorial Face Revealed

Pravit Rojanaphruk

Prachatai: April 9, 2010

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva addressed the nation on television on Thursday evening, a day after the state of emergency was declared, to defend the government’s censorships of red-shirt media by stating that by doing so he has succeeded somewhat in stopping “the spread” of “distorted information”, and is “in expectation that there will be a gradual reduction of hatred”.

Abhisit also added that “we should be able to coexist although we do have differing opinions.”

Those words made a mockery of the prime minister himself because the shutting down of red-shirt media such as People Channel Television (PTV), 36 websites including those sympathetic to red shirts such as online newspaper, along with those critical of the monarchy institution such as Fah Diew Kan or and, would only cause more hatred towards Abhisit and the old ruling  elite.

What is it with Abhisit in sweet talking about coexisting with “differing opinion” while actively censoring dissent media at the same time? Is this a bad joke? Does the prime minister want to try a shameless and impossible feat of giving lip service to respecting “differing opinion” in society while censoring opposition media as the same time?

What Abhisit has succeeded in doing is making himself look like a dictator and he is doing a fine job at that, especially from the point of view of people who have differing opinions from Abhisit.

By censoring opposition media, Abhisit has demonstrated that he thinks people, especially red shirts, are stupid and vulnerable to ‘propaganda’ generated by red-shirt media and the like. Such patronizing attitude by Abhisit was earlier revealed when mainstream media recently reported that he thinks that red shirts are “victims” of ousted and convicted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra whom red shirts supports. Apparently, the prime minister doesn’t believe that people, especially red shirts, can think for themselves and able to decide whether what they see, hear, or read is true or false, believable or not. Abhisit merely wants to feed them with the “right” and “appropriate” set of information – as if there is ever such consensus set of view and information in any society.

It is foolish of Abhisit to think that red-shirts, without access to opposition media due to censorships, will simply re-subscribe to state-controlled media or majority of the mainstream media which is overwhelmingly biased against red shirts and generally regards the poor and less educated people as mere pawn in the political struggle without any agency. The fact is, most red shirts have long ceased to trust mainstream and state media due to their partial reports and patronizing commentaries and editorials. The trust in these media is long gone since in 2006 coup and unlikely to be restored anytime soon, if ever. In fact, red shirts have expressed hatred towards many mainstream newspapers, radio and television stations.

Not genuinely accept differing views and what one regards as “distorted information” is a true hallmark of dictatorship. If Abhisit truly respects diversity of views, which includes the right to be “dis-informed” by others and the right to decide by themselves whether the information is truly distorted or not, then there’s absolutely no need whatsoever for the prime minister to censor any media, be it red, yellow or whatever.

What’s more, Abhisit himself had never called for the censorship of yellow-shirt ASTV television or ASTV-Manager Daily Newspaper even though the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) used it as an instrument to facilitate the seizure of Suvarnabhumi International Airport or publicise the occupation of Government House in 2008. (Back then, this writer wrote an article on The Nation newspaper, defending the right of ASTV to freely disseminate or “distort” information).

Now that Abhisit is busy censoring red-shirt media, he is committing a double-standard faux pas for he failed to see that many anti-red shirt media, be it state-controlled or privately owned, is currently engaged in a frenzy of anti-red-shirt campaign, throwing all kinds of insults and sneers at them.

Given the situation, freedom-loving citizens must peacefully resist such shameless and abusive use of power under emergency decree in order to achieve a censored society. Abhisit’s true face has been revealed, and no less by himself, as a dictator who wishes to control what people read, watch, listen and think.

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