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Chutima Sidasathian seeks free speech at Phuket's Heroines Monument

Opinion: PM Prayuth Should Kill the Navy Lawsuit Against Phuketwan

Tuesday, June 2, 2015
TWO PHUKET residents began preparing in earnest yesterday for a court case that never should have happened. Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian of the internet news site Phuketwan face an ill-considered charge of criminal defamation launched by the commander of the local Royal Thai Navy base.

There are numerous problems with this serious case, which could wind up with the Australian-Thai news team in prison. The bottom line, however, is clear. The military government in charge of all legal proceedings should drop this case.

The root cause of this poorly conceived legal imbroglio is human trafficking. Because Morison and Chutima are in Phuket, they have close access to this serial crime, particularly the trafficking of boat people on the Andaman Sea.

Their website has provided many exclusive and well-informed articles about the dirty business, long before authorities in Bangkok were recently forced to take it seriously.

In late 2013, Reuters news agency ran a lengthy series of reports on human trafficking. Articles focused on the exploitation, intimidation and physical threats and violence against the Rohingya and other boat people.

The Reuters articles mentioned the navy at length, and made charges of both moral and legal offences by the navy against boat people.

In one of their articles, Morison and Chutima quoted a short excerpt from a Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters report series. That is when the navy went to court.

The officers who brought the charge through the Phuket prosecutor's office threatened to sue the actual publisher of the story - Reuters, which has a large presence in Thailand. But then they backed down.

Instead, they have pursued the internet site's two operators. They might have assumed Morison and Chutima were too small to stand up to the military, but they have been proven wrong about that at every step since late 2013.

Morison and Chutima have proven to be formidable foes against this show of military strength.

It has become impossible to find a single person outside of that Phuket naval base who supports the navy and believes that Phuketwan defamed the navy's officers and men.

Indeed, successive navy commanders and - since May of last year - the high military command of the country have refused to say a single word against Morison and Chutima.

The Phuket Criminal Court has set July 14 for the trial's opening. The Phuketwan pair sat down with their legal advisers on Monday for six weeks of intensive preparation.

As always in such cases, the Phuketwan article's accuracy is not a solid defence, although it could be a factor in mitigation.

The actual charge is that the Phuketwan article defamed the navy by presenting a story that made it look bad.

The recent revelations of human trafficking have proved how close the navy comes to the victims and their dangerous craft.

Reuters has strongly defended its stories, which some navy personnel regarded as illegal behavior.

This case is further proof of the dangers of the current law on criminal defamation. The law is frequently misused, and the worst offenders are the government and its various arms.

It is unjust that a citizen or business should face prison because of criticism of an arm of government.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha should quash the defamation charges immediately and reprimand the officers who instituted the case.

Original Report Here:
http://bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/579663/phuketwan-suit-must-end

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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"That is when the navy went to court."

In fact, the navy went to court 5 months after Phuketwan republished the 41-word Reuters paragraph on 17 July 2013. The paragraph did not name the Royal Thai Navy.

In early December 2013 Reuters did name the Royal Thai Navy. Within 2 weeks of Reuters' December report the navy came after Phuketwan.

Posted by Ian Yarwood on June 2, 2015 07:42

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Once upon a time on a very dark night there was a naval task force that was being scattered by a storm ..

The admiral on the bridge of an aircraft carrier noticed the light from another ship fast approaching.

He signalled the other ship to change course.

The other ship signalled back: "No, you change course."

The admiral: " I am an admiral, you change course"

The reply: "I am an able seaman, you change course."

The admiral: "I am an aircraft carrier."

The reply: "I am a lighthouse."

Posted by Ian Yarwood on June 2, 2015 08:29

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Pathetic as usual morisen..you really are scraping the bottom of the pot and treating your readers as if they are all fools.This "opinion" written by you, posted on Bangkok Post as such, then you quote it on your crummy blogsite to give the impression that it was from someone else.Despicable!!

Posted by Mal on June 2, 2015 08:56

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For sure. the Thailand PM should cancel this Lawsuit. That would be the best for Thailand even though the Navy will loose some face, but after a few Days it will be forgotten.

Posted by Mj on June 2, 2015 11:14

Editor Comment:

This is not about ''loss of face,'' which is a tired and dated concept, but about telling right from wrong. One or two officers made a mistake. We all do that from time to time. In the 21st century, even the Pope, once infallible, is prepared to admit that he and his predecessors have made mistakes. This action reflects more poorly on Thailand and democracy every day that the Navy dithers.

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Dear Mal

No, it is clearly an editorial of the Bangkok Post.

It is headed in the Bangkok Post as an editorial and Alan Morison knew nothing about it until he saw it on the Bangkok Post site. The Bangkok Post simply would not present someone else's words as its own editorial opinion.

Sincerely
Ian Yarwood
Solicitor - Perth, Australia

Posted by Ian Yarwood on June 2, 2015 11:25

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It's the Bangkok Post's own editorial Mal. Nothing despicable here.

Posted by Frank on June 2, 2015 12:35

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Clearly. But they have to find a way to get out of this quietly, through the back door. (You're right, it's about right and wrong but I believe there will be some parties more interested in damage control.) Either that or throw the Phuket officers under the bus.

Mal, you're the fool, and a malicious one at that. Have you ever read a whole article or do you just jump straight to the hate !?!

Posted by James on June 2, 2015 17:45

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Hey Mal, did you know that your name means BAD in French? And the shoe fits you perfectly Mal, LOL

You're doing a BAD job of trying to sway public opinion your way - as you squat 2 feet deep in a putrid Latrine, and the smell is bloody terrible Mal - just like your BAD attitude.

I guess it's too late to say grow up. You get a third chance Mal, because everyone else does these days. So Grow up already!

Posted by farang888 on June 2, 2015 21:47

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Always a lot about your case, and granted of course. But never much about the Irish family with the young girl fighting local corruption at the very top of the tree.

Posted by Sean on June 3, 2015 10:13

Editor Comment:

There are any number of issues involving corruption in Thailand, Sean. The Vards have had plenty of support. Phuketwan and andrew-drummond sail close to the edge and suffer because complainers never actually contribute.

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@farang888..Unimpressive rant to me...If you are indicative of the quality of the few supporters that morisen has...you are only adding fuel to his fire....What i said has nothing at all to do with swaying public opinion..as is very obvious to all there is very little support for morisen and his personal blogsite. A combination of his own belligerence and self aggrandising has sealed his fate. He and he alone is responsible for his lack of pubic support..but you know that anyway huh?

Posted by Mal on June 3, 2015 10:18

Editor Comment:

You are confusing popular opinion with the simple-minded few at Thai Visa, Mal. And most of those are you.

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ed i admire your courage in your battle with the thai navy but sometimes its better to lose a battle to win the war.good luck which ever way you play your cards

Posted by bondi on June 3, 2015 11:58

Editor Comment:

Apologising for something we haven't done would not be right, bondi. When Reuters apologises for its paragraph, we will consider what we should do. Until then, it's just brute power versus principle. This has nothing to do with courage, just honesty.

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To be fair on farang888 he is merely saying what most readers are thinking.

I do not think Mal can accuse anyone else of engaging in a rant. Mal's posts are full of wild accusations and very nasty comments.

The downside of freedom of speech is that everyone gets to have their say, even the "Mals" of this world.

On the flip side, if the Mals of this world want to rant they need to learn to accept criticism. While the "Mals" seek attention there are important things happening in the world about which the Mals could not care less.

The credibility of the Mals is on par with the credibility of the racist Buddhist monks of Burma who spread false rumors and are one of the causes of the crisis. Like the Mals, some of those Buddhist monks get very sensitive about scrutiny.

Posted by Matt on June 3, 2015 12:51

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(moderated)

Posted by Mal on June 3, 2015 12:56

Editor Comment:

Enough, Mal. You are a serial pest. There appears to be only one thing you can grasp and I doubt you can even grasp that properly. Goodbye.

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@farang888

I just read Mal's reply to you. Call me perceptive but I don't think he is about to take your good advice. C'est la vie!!

I cannot say that I have any idea where Mal gets his "information" from but it seems pretty clear that Alan Morison and Phuketwan have considerable support from within Thailand and throughout the world, at least from people who matter.

By the way, I think that your posts are always worth reading farang888.

Posted by Frank on June 3, 2015 13:27

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Editor Comment:

Enough, Mal. You are a serial pest. There appears to be only one thing you can grasp and I doubt you can even grasp that properly. Goodbye.

Gutless coward...You just confirmed 100% what i commented about you...you cannot bear to take the truth you disgusting manipulative lying biatch!!

Posted by Mal on June 3, 2015 13:32

Editor Comment:

Thanks, Mal. Fair-minded readers no longer need further examples of the quality of your spelling and your thinking. Byeeee.

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@bondi

I think that Alan and Ms Chutima are courageous too.

I do not agree with your reply Ed. It is about honesty and considerable courage.

Perhaps you are accustomed to speaking up. Perhaps you are used to taking a stand when others are too timid or too indifferent to do anything. However, bondi is right.

Posted by Frank on June 3, 2015 13:38

Editor Comment:

We don't see any courage involved. We are simply doing what all journalists everywhere are obliged to try to do - get it right. The Royal Thai Navy should be big enough to admit that one or two officers made an error in translation, and move on.

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Hello Ed

Ok, you might not see the courage but your readers do. Courage is a common trait of many journalists. It is not an occupation for the spineless.

On the subject of courage, the picture of Chutima Sidasathian in front of Phukets' Heroines Monument is most appropriate. Please tell the photographer that Frank says he/she deserves a pay rise or at least a bonus for that excellent picture.

Good luck with the court cases.

Posted by Frank on June 3, 2015 16:00

Editor Comment:

Thanks, Frank.

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(moderated)

Posted by Mal on June 3, 2015 23:27

Editor Comment:

I don't have an inflated ego like you, Mal, so winding me up is not as easy as winding you up.

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(moderated)

Posted by Mal on June 4, 2015 08:48

Editor Comment:

Your understanding of what constitutes a valid comment seems as weak as your grasp of everything else, Mal. Unless you add value, you won't be published here again. I suggest you try publishing your comments at TV, but a warning: the moderators there can spot a fruit loop as easily as I can.

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(moderated)

Posted by Mal on June 4, 2015 09:34

Editor Comment:

Couldn't care less, Mal. Let's make it so you understand: A-D-D V-A-L-U-E or don't waste your time.


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