ABC TV on Thai politics

The ABC’s iconic Foreign Correspondent program is advertising a Thailand-specific report that will run on Australian television tonight.  Having just heard the promo it sounded like they have decided to smash through some of the remaining media taboos concerning coverage of Thai politics.  On first impressions, this is a program that New Mandala readers won’t want to miss.

Update: The reporter, Eric Campbell, just said (on ABC2′s excellent News Breakfast program), “It is very possible that I may face criminal charges for this story…I may never be able to go back to Thailand…it is an extraordinary situation”.  He also mentioned Darunee Charnchoensilpakul‘s 18-year prison sentence, among other matters.

Update 2: At Crikey (subscriber only), Andrew Crook provides some extra context.  A key section reads: “Campbell will be the first television reporter to bust through the media taboo over lese majeste, which has led to foreign reporters tip-toeing around statements critical of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his acolytes, for fear of arrest. In fact, any public comment that’s considered insufficiently deferential can lead to 20-years in the clink. The laws famously snared struggling Australian author Harry Nicolaides, when he was arrested at Bangkok airport in August 2008 for daring to write a few lines bagging the monarchy in a book that sold 7 copies. But in recent weeks, the lese majeste facade has began to slip…Campbell said the subject matter was so controversial that he will never be able to return to the country and that he fears for the safety of journalists inside Thailand who flout the ban. As it stands, a Jetstar flight into Suvarnabhumi Airport could almost certainly land Campbell in the clink in the manner of Nicolaides…The four-man ABC Bangkok bureau could also suffer dire consequences. Asia Correspondent Mark Willacy has been filing reports on the protests, but is under strict instructions to avoid overt criticism of the King. Campbell said he was careful to compile his report without the assistance of the bureau. Foreign bureaux have a history of being tailed, and targeted. In 2008, the BBC’s Bangkok correspondent Jonathan Head faced charges under lese majeste, before finally fleeing to Turkey to avoid arrest.”

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