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EU delegates joined Phuketwan journalists and Andy Hall for a photo today

Kill Misguided Case for Thailand's Sake

Friday, June 12, 2015
PHUKET: One or two officers in the Royal Thai Navy should not be permitted to behave like bullies in pursuing an unjust criminal defamation prosecution against journalists, Phuketwan editor Alan Morison said today.

''The Prime Minister should kill the court action against Phuketwan immediately and order a full investigation into this bizarre misuse of the Navy's good name,'' said Morison.

''If this case reaches court next month, these officers will be responsible for trashing the reputation of the Navy and of Thailand. The Prime Minister should intervene now, while there's still time to prevent a disaster.''

At the invitation of the European Union, Morison and his co-charged colleague Chutima Sidasathian briefed ambassadors and delegates of the 28-nation body in Bangkok today about the case against them.

Morison and Khun Chutima met with Australian ambassador Paul Robilliard and key embassy staff the previous day.

Joining the journalists at today's meeting was British migrant worker advocate Andy Hall, who is also facing criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act charges in a separate series of cases brought by a pineapple processor over a critical NGO's report.

While the EU gathering remains confidential, Hall, Morison and Chutima spoke out after the meeting about their cases.

Simply for being a co-author of a Finnwatch report exposing migrant worker abuses, Hall is fighting four separate cases and faces jail as well as a compensation payout of 400 million baht.

''Today's gathering sends a clear message to the Thai government,'' Hall said later.

''I was delighted to be able to explain how these laws are being misused and I feel EU support on migrant worker and Rohingya issues is likely to grow even stronger in future.''

Hall's cases roll on and witnesses give evidence against Morison and Khun Chutima on Phuket from July 14.

Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists, the UN human rights body, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and other groups have called on the Thai government to kill the case before the trial resumes.

''Thailand must begin to make decisions based on choosing between right and wrong,'' Khun Chutima said after today's EU meeting.

''This should not be about saving face. These charges should never have been laid. If the Navy behaves with honor, it has to accept that one or two officers made a mistake on the basis of bad advice.''

The journalists have been asked to ''apologise'' for republishing a paragraph word-for-word in 2013 from a Reuters report that became part of a series on the Rohingya exodus from Burma (Myanmar) that won a prestigious Pulitzer Prize.

''When Reuters apologises, we will consider what to say next,'' Morison said. ''But the words clearly belong to Reuters, not us.''

Reuters and other news organisations in Thailand and around the world which published the Reuters journalists' words have not been charged.

''Phuketwan has been singled out for unjust special punishment,'' Morison said today.

''The Prime Minister must ask the Navy why they have focussed on the news outlet that has reported most fully on Thailand's treatment of the boatpeople from Burma and Bangladesh over the past seven years.

''This is all about a misguided and vindictive response based on rumor, ego and paranoia. Even worse, the paragraph has been appallingly mistranslated.

''Incredibly, the original English-language version does not even mention the Royal Thai Navy. Yet the Navy's Thai-language translation mentions the Royal Thai Navy three times.''

Morison said the journalists were clearly the real victims and had already suffered serious financial and emotional repercussions.

''The officers' misguided pursuit will expose Thailand to ridicule around the world if the Prime Minister does not order the Attorney General to stop the case,'' he added.

''The government's improving relationship with the media in Thailand and internationally will be severely damaged.

""Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha should simply ask the officers involved to explain how they can justify this persecution of the press,'' Morison said.

''We are confident he will then decide to have the case withdrawn.''

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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PM certainly can not order Attorney General, but can only suggest.

I think the assertive tone of the message, albeit some may perceive is too sharp, is fit in the situation.

May be it would be good to state the same or similar in Thai, and forward it to the Attn. PM, asking for expression of his suggestion to AG?

Posted by Sue on June 12, 2015 17:26

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Dear Ed

It certainly was an impressive group picture of the three of you (Khun Chutima, Andy Hall and Alan Morison) surrounded by the 28 EU delegates on Chutima's twitter page
https://twitter.com/oichutima and Andy Hall's twitter page https://twitter.com/Atomicalandy/media on 12 June 2015.

Great to see so much continuing international support for all three of you.

Regards

Posted by Ian Yarwood on June 12, 2015 17:31

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Thank you EU!

Posted by Matt William on June 12, 2015 17:42

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I think the Europeans understand the fundamental importance of freedom of the press in any country that aspires to be democratic.

Posted by Frank on June 12, 2015 17:48

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It's a shame that such a lovely person as Khun Chutima finds herself in this position, Alan too

Posted by Guenter Bellach on June 12, 2015 19:02

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I think Sue is spot on. You can only appeal to him to ask the AG to haut the process. I'm afraid if it hasn't happened by now it probably won't.

Posted by John M on June 12, 2015 19:23

Editor Comment:

There are two options, John M, that would save Thailand. One is for the Attorney General to withdraw the prosecution.The other is for the prosecutor to stand up in court on July 14 and say: ''Your honor, we are not proceeding with this case.'' The court will be packed so the first option is the better one.

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Very strong words spoken against the backdrop of the EU delegates.

I sure hope they will be there to back you up if things go south after this article reaches the PMs desk.

Taking the bull by the horns is very brave but can also turn lethal.

Posted by Herbert on June 12, 2015 19:54

Editor Comment:

We do not believe the PM is the kind of person you are suggesting, Herbert. If the Navy wins this case, it loses. If it loses, it loses. Simply reaching court will impact negatively on Thailand's international reputation - something none of us wants to happen.

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All these nicely dressed people fronted by our esteemed ed looking like a two star tourist.Surely you have tie to wear when invited to speak with dignitaries..No?

Posted by Mal on June 12, 2015 19:56

Editor Comment:

A newly bought second-hand shirt is about as formal as it gets on Phuket. I am sure the envoys understand my life savings are being well-spent on other things.

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lets hope the term "Misguided" is not misconstrued as another reason the go after the editors

Posted by mike on June 12, 2015 22:29

Editor Comment:

We've been using the word ''misguided'' in relation to those one or two officers and their actions since December 2013, mike. There are other words that could possibly be appropriate but we are giving those one or two officers the benefit of the doubt.

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This case is al about one word. A word that Thai's don't know and can place, face or understand. Because it is non existing in Thailand. It is all about Thai Logic! But what is logic in Thai?

Posted by phuketgreed on June 12, 2015 23:13

Editor Comment:

The word this case is about is is Justice, phuketgreed. We are putting our faith in it.

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You have not joined the club. You and chitma are inappropiately dressed and appear to be lightweights in that crowd.

Posted by Elephants Gerald on June 12, 2015 23:25

Editor Comment:

Judging by appearances is something we will leave to you and other heavyweights, EG.

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Alan

You could have at least worn a suit for the photo!

Or even a jacket ......

Posted by Discover Thainess on June 12, 2015 23:58

Editor Comment:

I don't possess a suit, DT. I have a jacket, bought in 1982, and will conserve its stitching for the trial.

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What's with the comments about sartorial elegance, or lack thereof? How Petty!

Alan, you look fine. K Chutima looks delightful, as always.

Didn't see Ghandi in a suit and tie either, and he achieved an awful lot. Of course he got shot too, but let's not take the comparison that far.

Best of luck to the team at Phuket Wan.

Posted by Joe Bloggs on June 13, 2015 09:47

Editor Comment:

Thanks, Joe. I seem to remember that Gandhi hopped into bed with two extremely pretty women to prove he was a man who could avoid the sins of the flesh. I'll stick to not wearing a tie for now.

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For those readers who are unfamiliar with "Mal" and "Elephants Gerald" I should explain that they are very well balanced individuals. Yes. That's right. They have a chip on each shoulder.

In fact, they give the very distinct impression of being the very same individual/troll. EG deliberately misspells Chutima and Mal deliberately misspells Morison. That is just one of many clues that the troll leaves behind.

I agree with everything you say Joe Bloggs but please keep in mind that the trolls at least make the rest of us seem really clever.

Posted by Frank on June 13, 2015 10:41

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With all due respect. Thailand's international reputation:

Freedom rating 5/7

Civil liberty 5/7

Political rights 6/7

Posted by gee on June 13, 2015 10:51

Editor Comment:

Those ratings out of 7 are good, gee. I didn't realise Thailand was doing that well.

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The EU delegates do look out of place in this photo but I suppose it avoided a change of clothes before their next appointment, attending the funeral for the Greek economy.

Posted by Manowar on June 13, 2015 12:04

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Frank,
But you have to agree that gees comment had more sub substance than his previous 10, very moderate ones.

Posted by MoW on June 13, 2015 12:11

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"Professor gee" did not explain where these scores came from but Freedom House did score Thailand at 5.5 Freedom; 5 civil liberty; and 6 political rights. 2015 scores.

7 is the worst score and 1 is the best.

Gee posted the words "visiting professor Cambridge" at the end of a comment yesterday

Posted by Frank on June 13, 2015 12:17

Editor Comment:

Ah, that explains it.

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If I try the same test as Gandhi which of course I would obviously fail, how many times can I retake the test?

Posted by MoW on June 13, 2015 12:21

Editor Comment:

I don't think you can even start the test until you reach the age of 80, MoW. Anything before then is practice.

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Alan,
Unfortunately I would probably also past that test at 80 or pass any test that required me to do nothing.

Posted by MoW on June 13, 2015 12:48

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"Ah that explains it"

Your homeland of Australia scored 1 in every category Alan. Top scores Alan, so you have obviously been very spoiled.

Freedom House does have a bit of a write-up about Phuketwan as it explains its deteriorating scores for Thailand. Maybe professor gee read that stuff but I don't know.

I suppose something to note is that an awful lot of people, countries and organisations are following this Phuketwan saga very closely.

Posted by Frank on June 13, 2015 12:53

Editor Comment:

My nationality is Australian, Frank. It's been a while since I spent any length of time there. My home is in Thailand. From the sound of it, Freedom House probably should know about these things.

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Please - Gandhi and Moro in the same sentence ? Give me a break

Posted by John M on June 13, 2015 13:20

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The comment from Joe Bloggs was spot on regardless of whether John M needs a break or not.

The reference to Ghandi's clothes was also very appropriate in the context. John M succeeds in making Joe look rather clever in comparison.

Posted by Frank on June 16, 2015 10:11

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The criticisms of Alan Morison's clothing are absolutely absurd. They are not just petty.

It should not be lost on anyone that there are plenty of policemen and military personnel in Thailand who who look impeccable in their smartly pressed uniforms. Unfortunately, not all of them are impeccable in the execution of their duties and it seems that some are being investigated over human trafficking.

A smart uniform or a smart suit might look ok but even small kids are taught not to judge a book by its cover.

Plenty if journalists do great work in neat casual attire. Alan Morison does fantastic work in such attire.

Posted by Frank on June 17, 2015 12:15

Editor Comment:

There is a small group of expats who have nothing better to do, Frank, than indulge in mindless criticism. Sad, really - for them.

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(moderated)

Posted by Discover Thainess on June 17, 2015 13:43

Editor Comment:

Unless you have something of value to add, DT, you won't be posted here again. Your ''jokes'' are not funny.

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(moderated)

Posted by Discover Thainess on June 17, 2015 14:19

Editor Comment:

Moderated for being a pompous ass, DT. Add value or don't bother. Nobody shares your sense of humor.

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Alan Morison is not Gandhi.

He has not claimed to be Gandhi.

But, I am confident that Gandhi would approve of Alan Morison's conduct.

Posted by Ian Yarwood on June 18, 2015 00:58

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PW journalists are certainly versatile.

The two of you go from smugglers' abandoned jungle camps to gatherings with EU delegates then off to mass graves then appearances on TV then guest spots on radio etc etc.

I hope you win your case resoundingly then take a break for a day or two to recharge your batteries.

Posted by Frank on June 25, 2015 02:04


Wednesday October 21, 2020
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