Media War

exposing media bias in Thailand

Similarities between Iran and Thailand


there is a big coverage in Thai media the of current protests in Iran  and especially the role of internet, blogs and Twitter  as an alternative media in these events.

Bkk Post  writes:  Iran tweets get to outside world

With foreign media now barred from taking to the streets to report on the aftermath of the disputed election, heavy use is being made of so-called user-generated content.

Alongside reports compiled from correspondents in Iran — often under false names — newspapers and websites are reprinting emails, the contents of phone calls, and messages from Twitter and social networking site Facebook.

Back in Britain, Sky News television was using content from Twitter to complement the coverage from its foreign editor, who is in the Iranian capital.

Ruth Barnett, a multimedia producer on the channel, admitted that it was difficult to check who the Twitter users are.

there are many more reports about  Twitter.   while  at the same time  Iran is being compared with Thailand in many aspects, including the  media censorship :

Web tangled in Iranian struggle

Iran is up there with the likes of China, Vietnam, Thailand and North Korea when it comes to Internet censorship prowess, all of which have in recent years jailed Internet users and violated the rights of online free speech

Internet users across the globe have pledged to help Iranians avoid detection and possible arrest by attempting to make it harder for the government to track them. By using proxy servers, they are able to change their web addresses or location settings to make it appear as if they are posting information from outside Iran. This gives the Iranian Internet police a tough job in tracking down the genuine bloggers living inside the country. Sympathizers are also setting up their own proxies to help Iranians bypass government filters.

A proxy is essentially a web server or network that bridges the gap between the user and the destination website by masking the Internet address of either connection. By disguising the Internet address (IP) they can make the connection appear anonymous and thus enable access to otherwise blocked websites

Well,  I know for a fact that Thai  people are not a strangers to Twitter, blogs and Proxys ! a lot of on-line  browsers and commenters  are now extensively using mautlitude of proxy websites and software while reading  and participating in many banned and blocked  websites and forums.

Jotman blog  tries to analyze other similarities, which are of course too many, in his post :  Thailand example a warning for Iran optimists

The comparison is very easily made. In fact, one can develop Iranian parallels with Thailand much further than one can carry any comparison between Iran and countries such as Brazil or the US… Both Persians and Thais have experienced the censorship and self-censorship of websites and the press. In both countries you can end up in jail if you criticize the wrong people… Even in terms of current political tactics there are parallels between Bangkok in April and Tehran in June.

Elites in both countries appear at times of crisis to rule through a political class that acts within a democratic arena, but is inherently expendable. Democratic systems, elites with veto power. By this arrangement, it may even be possible for the real power brokers to shed a once-favored political party as a snake sheds its skin.

I think this blog News in Bangkok has very nice comparison (I suggest read it all) of 2 countries, here are some points :

Iranian and Thai Democracy

first point of comparison is to observe …  it is clear that people will vote for who they want to vote for …  [in Iran] there seem to be plenty of people willing to vote for him [Ahmedinajad] … In Thailand … the mass of people have repeatedly voted for the parties that would provide redistribution from the rich to the poor. Democracy means that people should be allowed to vote for who they wish.

However, both in Iran and Thailand, it appears to be the case that the will of the people is to be denied

In both countries, the state authorities have been perfectly willing to use violence to disperse pro-democracy protestors

In both countries, real power is wielded by extra-constitutional figures who prefer to act largely behind the scenes (or sometimes blatantly in public knowing that the media will remain quiescent)…

The attitude of the USA is different

In Middle east section  of Asia Times  there are  many articles in past 2 weeks  about events in Iran which provide a better understanding of what’s actually going on there, as well as get the better comparison between Thailand and Iran:  the behind the curtains power brokering, the “grey cardinalRafsanjani (as certain similar  persons in Thailand) who is the Mousavi‘s  protege,  the “Oil mafia” (well, I guess in Thailand it is – “Rice mafia”  and in general all those companies producing food and dealing with agri  products ?),  the political structure in the country, etc etc.  and another similarity is  a “coup”, as some see the current event in Iran :

A very Iranian coup

My take is that the result of this election has been a very Iranian coup, and that the people in control are very much analogous to a less technocratic and unsophisticated type of siloviki – or security service types found in the corridors of power in Russia and elsewhere.

Personally, I doubt whether this faction will be able to maintain and consolidate control because its members do not have the expertise to manage an unwilling bureaucracy. They also seem to have alienated the powerful bazaaris, whose support was instrumental both for the late ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979, and for Ahmadinejad more recently.

I don’t see any chance of a violent revolutionary struggle, since the Iranian military is keeping out of it. This is an economic, not an ideological struggle

Thailand is quite famous for all sorts of coups too. and Of course,  the old good clue is same : “follow the money”.

and to my big surprise, some Thai reporters, as Nation’s Pornpimol Kanchanalak, are able to deduct at least some lessons :

A lesson in grey from Tehran

the lesson here is, that apart from all the irony, contradiction and “colours” in politics,

reality will perhaps always be different shades of grey.

although of course  Thai reporter is being too cautious to draw more  comparisons than that, and at the same time sort of pokes the “red” and “yellow” movements.

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June 21, 2009 - Posted by | Anti-establishment, Media Control | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. […] Iran & Thailand comparisons in earlier post we have already  tried to notice the  ongoing efforts in  Thai MSM and in on-line blogs and […]

    Pingback by further Iran & Thailand comparisons « Media War | June 24, 2009 | Reply

  2. there is a great article on Asia Sentinnel today :

    Is Iran More Democratic Than Thailand?

    since it would be perhaps too long for a comment here, I have decided to make a separate post about it, with my own thoughts and quotes from the article.

    Comment by antipadshist | June 24, 2009 | Reply

  3. well, but of course – it is natural that other person won’t necessarily agree with me. therefore I don’t expect that either. I was merely trying to share my thoughts. I myself am not so sure what’s actually going on there. I just prefer not to believe so easily the Mainstream Media – Western or especially Thai, therefore I was quite reluctant to accept the “official truth” – that Iranian protests are happeining really because people who’re protesting there want democratic change etc. altough no doubt – to certain extent and perhaps large number of them really do.

    Comment by antipadshist | June 23, 2009 | Reply

  4. Thanks AntiPADshist – while I dont agree with everything you say, I do really admire your energy 🙂

    Comment by nganadeeleg | June 22, 2009 | Reply

  5. here is I think a very good article by Washington Post, which sheds a bit more light on what’s actually going on in Iran, and whether Ahmadinejad has really won or as Mousavi claims “elections were rigged”:

    The Iranian People Speak

    … our nationwide public opinion survey of Iranians three weeks before the vote showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin — greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday’s election… our scientific sampling from across all 30 of Iran’s provinces showed Ahmadinejad well ahead.

    Independent and uncensored nationwide surveys of Iran are rare… The breadth of Ahmadinejad’s support was apparent in our preelection survey…

    Much commentary has portrayed Iranian youth and the Internet as harbingers of change in this election. But our poll found that only a third of Iranians even have access to the Internet, while 18-to-24-year-olds comprised the strongest voting bloc for Ahmadinejad of all age groups.

    The only demographic groups in which our survey found Mousavi leading or competitive with Ahmadinejad were university students and graduates, and the highest-income Iranians. When our poll was taken, almost a third of Iranians were also still undecided. Yet the baseline distributions we found then mirror the results reported by the Iranian authorities, indicating the possibility that the vote is not the product of widespread fraud.

    Iranians view their support for a more democratic system, with normal relations with the United States, as consonant with their support for Ahmadinejad. They do not want him to continue his hard-line policies. Rather, Iranians apparently see Ahmadinejad as their toughest negotiator, the person best positioned to bring home a favorable deal — rather like a Persian Nixon going to China.

    Allegations of fraud and electoral manipulation will serve to further isolate Iran and are likely to increase its belligerence and intransigence against the outside world. Before other countries, including the United States, jump to the conclusion that the Iranian presidential elections were fraudulent, with the grave consequences such charges could bring, they should consider all independent information. The fact may simply be that the reelection of President Ahmadinejad is what the Iranian people wanted.

    somehow one can’t find such sober conclusions in Thai media – that perhaps when MAJORITY of Thai people repeatedly vote for the party(s) whom they see as helping them – may be it IS what Thai people really want ?

    but of course, Thai MSM can only continue support the elite and Amart, and occasionally PAD – which is the reactionary group who refuses to accept the results of elections again and again.

    Comment by antipadshist | June 22, 2009 | Reply

  6. Hey, Nganedeeleg ! 🙂

    you’ve aksed quite a clever questions.

    I am not sure I know the answers, but I’ll try to express what is my limited understanding of these affairs.

    as I know – yes, “rural masses support Ahmadinejad” – because apparently he has not only was talking the talk, but also walking the walk: really providing certain substantial benefits and policies favoring poor people. also as I have read about him – he has REFUSED to get the sallary of a President, and only receives the humble salary of a Uni teacher (lecturer) – which is reportedly about $250 they say “wage” (I guess that is per month?). also they say that he has ZERO bank account balance. as well as when he accepts some person into his cabinet as a minister, he takes from them a written sort of promise (or contract?) that this person will ONLY work for the people and will not use his position to enrich himself.
    (now, I would like to see that ANY politicians or especially PM would implement such a policy, huh ? 😉 )

    so, I guess that’s why he has won the elections, since poor people really see that he is working FOR THEM, and is practically ONE OF THEM.

    which of course I can’t say about any Thai PM – including Thaksing or Abhisit – even though Thaksin has done for poor Thais much more than any other PM before or after him, and even though Abhisit is considered the “cleanest” PM.

    so, majority (aka poor people) in Iran support Ahm. and therefore voted for him; in Thailand majority (also poor people) – has repeatedly voted for Thaksin or his nominees.

    that I guess can fairly say which makes Iran and Thailand similar.

    now, as about Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei – I am not so sure that is the case. because first of all – he is a non-elected person, or even if he is sort of elected – then at least he is not chosen by the ordinary people, but by a clergy (I guess the process is something like choosing the Pope among the Preferatti – as described in book and movie “Angels and Demons”). so, what I mean is – since Sepreme leader is not elected in the same manner as President, then there is no way to know exactly how much support he has. furthermore, I guess that even that subject itself is some sort of taboo there, as much as certain subjects here in Thailand (even when Thaksin started to mention P. in his phone-ins, it has already caused quite an outrages in certain cirlcles).

    so, that’s why it is hard to say about Khamenei. although of course you’re right to mention him, because ultimately it is him who decides the crucial issues. and he is a person who is sort of “outside Constitution” – same as certain persons here in Thailand.

    In fact in Thailand there are too many of them: army, judiciary, all the powerfull elite, bosses of big corporations, powerful regional / provincial power-brokers – to mention only briefly and only those on the surface.

    so, I think while there are certain similarities between Iran and Thailand – it doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is exactly the same. I am not sure.

    as for PAD and protesters in Iran … well, again, there are some similarities too: like both are predominately urban middle class; also both are acting in such a way and for reason which are quite similar – refusing to accept the results of the elections mostly (of not only) because THEY DO NOT LIKE IT, or because they do not agree that rural people are qualified enough or educated enough or something. also both of them are to some extent or another are just a tool in the hands of certain “behind the curtains” players: in Thailand it is “Amart” (although some say – even higher than that), in Iran it is “Oil Mafia” with “grey cardinal” Rafsanjani and his man Mousavi. Mousavi is probably more or less comparable with Abhisit, at least to some extent: that he attempts to “ride the tide” and get power through the protests; although it is said about him that he is not much different from Ahmadinejad from the Western point of view – in terms of foreign policies.

    lastly, PAD in past few months, lets say from March-April, has started to drastically change its stance – like saying that “we’re not much different from UDD because we both wnat to change the old style politics”.

    although I am still not so sure – how far they would go, if at all – may be this is just a talk.

    in Iran though – it is too much complicated, much more than in Thailand. therefore I am not so sure that the protesters who are raging on the streets now actually want to change the WHOLE SYSTEM or not. perhaps they are only being played by Rafsanjani and other powerful clergy, who merely want to oust Khamenei and install their own Ayatollah. so, most likely their calls “Death to Khamenei” are not really are attempts to change the system at all.

    and without the system change (or as West calls it “regime change”) – what is it all about anyway? only a power-struggle between the mighty, without any real benefits or REAL change for those ordinary people, including those who are protesting now.

    so these are my 2 satangs.

    and of course, to be able to make a COMPLETE comparison – we must know the full picture in both coutries and to be able to speak openly on all those aspects, which I guess is impossible due to certain reasons. therefore I guess exact complete comparison is not possible right now.

    Comment by antipadshist | June 22, 2009 | Reply

  7. Whilst some comparisons can be drawn with Thailand, it is my understanding the the rural masses support Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader.

    So does that make the Iran protesters similar to the PAD yellows?
    🙂

    Comment by nganadeeleg | June 22, 2009 | Reply


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