Sunday, September 24, 2006
COUP RUMOUR INDEX
s I wrote last night, in a quick update of the previous post, Thai military leaders have cited unnamed foreign media, as having defamed the monarchy during early coverage of the events.
"At today's meeting top military leaders asked the foreign ministry to urgently retaliate against foreign reporters whose coverage has been deemed insulting to the monarchy," deputy spokesman Major General Thaweep Netniyan told reporters.I wish I had a tape of those first few dispatches from Dan Rivers in Bangkok, aired on CNN via satellite phone. I don't blame anyone for getting facts wrong when the situation was unclear, and there are conflicting rumours flying around. I've made a couple of corrections myself this week. But what I heard from Rivers that night, was a little bit of reporting mixed with a lot of unfounded silliness that he seemed to be making up on the fly. I thought to myself, this guy is a greenhorn who clearly doesn't know much about Thailand, and what is he doing as CNN's Bangkok correspondent?
Thaweep, speaking at a press conference after a three-hour meeting of the generals, did not name the foreign media organisations or dispatches deemed offensive and did not specify how the regime would retaliate.
So when I saw the above report yesterday, I went digging through the CNN website to find their earliest posted article on the coup. A link referenced in the sidebar of one early story, with the headline Thai army chief leads coup while prime minister away came back "Not Found" --
"... or the server has been instructed not to let you have it."Google searches found no such headline on the CNN site, although other websites had quoted the CNN story with that headline. It had also been flushed from the Google cache, although it still contained all the other early CNN stories. A slight variation of the missing url [09/19/thailand.coup.rumor/index.html?section=cnn_world] still existed, with the headline CNN.com - Coup chief cites intense conflicts - Sep 19, 2006. This story had been written the following morning.
I found a partial copy of the original article cited at Global Report: Thai army chief leads coup while prime minister away - VIDEO:
BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- The chiefs of Thailand's army, navy and air force met with King Bhumibol Adulyadej [...] according to a televised statement early Wednesday.Due to my own deep and sincere respect for His Majesty, I will not repeat the offensive phrase on this page. No such thing was reported in any televised statement here, early Wednesday or any other time. Neither has there ever been an opposition "Party of Democratic Reform", and General Sonthi said no such thing.
The coup is being led by Thai army chief Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, who announced that the military and opposition Party of Democratic Reform were taking over while Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was in New York for a U.N. meeting.
Another news website quoted the same CNN article in full, citing CNN's Richard Roth, Dan Rivers and Ellen Rose. Reports regarding the locally televised coup announcements would have come from Mr. Rivers I believe.
Other copies of the same headlined story, such as this one, opened differently:
Tanks and troops patrolled Bangkok early Wednesday after the chief of Thailand's army said the military was taking control of the country.The Netscape news site quoted CNN's opening paragraph this way:
The coup against the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is being led by Thai army chief Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin and Thailand's opposition Party of Democratic Reform.
Tanks and troops patrolled Bangkok early Wednesday after the chief of Thailand's army said the military was taking control of the country. The coup against the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is being led by Thai army chief Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin and Thailand's opposition Party of Democratic Reform.The network has done a good job flushing the offensive passage from its site, and evidently from Google's memory as well. There may well be other media reports involved in the statement yesterday by the CDRM spokesman, but I'm sure that this example is one. What it shows me is that CNN's Bangkok correspondent didn't understand the announcements he was reporting on, or he was being informed by someone who couldn't understand them. Beyond that, if he had a basic understanding of Thailand, he would have known that the now-excised passage was wrong -- language difficulties or not. He also should have known that transmitting it would have offended, not necessarily His Majesty (who has indicated in the past that he doesn't really need such protection), but the Thai people. Tom Mintier would have never made such a goof.
It may seem like a minor thing to outsiders, if you read the original at the links above. But think of what the words imply about the status of the generals in relation to His Majesty. All statements released by the coup leaders, from the first to the latest, have repeatedly emphasised that they are under the King. That passage did not reflect this, and would be extremely jarring for any Thai person to hear or read.
Here is the Google search for the original headline.
In other news, a small protest against the coup took place on Friday evening, but gathered little support. Numbers were reportedly anywhere between 20 -100, probably because the news media present outnumbered the protesters. There were no incidents and the meeting dispersed peacefully after about an hour.
The CDRM also announced a ban on wiretapping, and threatened to revoke the concessions of telecoms operators caught eavesdropping.
"It's the military coup leaders' order that wiretapping is banned and anyone -- wiretappers, masterminds, operators -- would face the harshest punishment of fines and jail terms," said Lieutenant General Palangoon Klaharn.Evidently there was concern that Mr. Thaksin's people might be eavesdropping on members of the CDRM and passing information to him, although the spokesman said the measure did not target any particular operator.
"The operator will face the most serious punishment, including the revocation of the concession."
A telecom company founded and later sold by ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, Advanced Info Service, is Thailand's largest mobile phone operator and controls more than 51 percent of the 33-million-user market.