Saturday, September 23, 2006

Thai Free Media: (1997-2006)

Thai Free Media was found dead this week in her home, after finally succumbing to corruption and government control in the Kingdom of Thailand. After bravely fighting a losing battle for independence, Media, 9, spent her final days in quiet solitude. The official cause of death, according to the coroner, was asphyxiation, apparently the result of an assisted suicide.

Media, born to People and Constitution on October 11, 1997, was temporarily to remain in the custody of the Royal Thai Government and Royal Thai Army, surrogate parents who found it increasingly difficult to part with their beloved newborn.

According to Constitution’s writings, Media was to be placed in the protective custody of her Godfather- National Broadcasting Commission. Commission, however, never appeared to assume guardianship, and Media’s consequent battle for independence would define her short, but brave life.

Constitution was unavailable for comment.

Friends remember Media for her ability to express ideas and opinions, even dissenting ones, to Thais throughout the country. More than 80% of Thais were dependent on her television appearances for their source of national news. Her stepsister, iTV (Independent TV), was the only sibling not living in the custody of the Armed Forces or Royal Thai Government. Sadly, her death coincided with Media’s (page 12).

Media’s death was preceded by that of Constitution, 9, and coincided with the death of her cousins, the Right family: Gather, Form Political Parties, Political Action, most notably. Constitution herself was born in response to the killing of hundreds of students protesting the last military coup of Thailand in 1992, otherwise known as Black May.

In an effort to build national unity, the Thai Democratic Reform Committee, on September 21, 2006, asked Media to begin filtering information that may lead to the “fragmentation of Thai society” by “encouraging political discussion”. Unfortunately, as Free Media no doubt realized, it was these very molecules of dissent that gave her life.

She enthusiastically accepted.

Beloved fans of Media have not fully accepted her passing, still looking everywhere for signs of life. The government has hired private detectives, otherwise known as Webmasters, to search and destroy any such information.

Television stations have continued to operate despite her absence. For example, Thailand’s Public Service Station, Channel 11, airs an English language news program from 9:30-10:30pm nightly. This program serves as an opportunity for Thais to learn English and also provides laughing fits for United States Peace Corps Volunteers in the region. One segment of the show involves a member of the Bangkok Post, a daily English language newspaper to come and discuss current issues. This segment, in particular, has recently given birth to a new form of Thai Media- Propaganda.

On whether there are protests going on in the country: “I think talking about it would just make people think more than they should.”

On International condemnation of the military coup: “International coverage has been, very honestly, superficial. English journalists should read Thai newspapers and translate them into English to get their information.”

On the US and UK: “They have already started an illegitimate war in Iraq and will start another war in Iran next year.”

On misinformation being spread throughout the country: “The only source you need to go to for information is Royal Thai Government dot com.”

This, of course, is a writer from the Bangkok Post invited onto Public Service television telling its watchers that the only information they need to know is found at www.rtg.com.

“Will tourists be coming back to Thailand?” the host asks while shuffling papers at the end of his broadcast, “Oh, they’ll come.” Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. “They’ll come.”

A cremation service in memory of Thai Free Media will be held at the birthplace of Constitution- the Democracy Monument. It was here that thousands of students and protesters have been killed while protesting prior Thai coups. Itself a monument to irony, the Democracy Monument was build in commemoration of the 1932 military coup, where civilians are depicted in relief sculptures as the grateful recipients of the heroism and benevolence of the armed forces.

The ceremony will not be attended due to the prior cremation ceremony of Right to Gather. Flowers and condolences may be sent to the former residence of Thai Free Media and her family.

That information, of course, can be found at www.rtg.com

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