THAILAND: Media Controversy Ends Up A Mountain Out of A Molehill

Thailand’s media has been obsessing over an alleged hotel meeting between Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and four business leaders on February 8, 2012. Before leaving for a one-day visit to Malaysia, the Prime Minister responded to journalists about the controversy claiming the meeting was open and “in fact, the media knew [very] well that we [(Ms. Yingluck and the businessmen)] went there openly.”

Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong confirmed that he was involved with the meeting and explained, “they did not want to meet with the prime minister at government House because they did not want to be seen as siding with the government.” The finance minister supported the Prime Minister’s meeting, saying that it is Yingluck’s duty as a prime minister is to hear opinions from as many people as possible.

Arguments broke out at Parliament as opposition party leaders demanded an explanation for PM Yingluck’s failure to attend a legislative meeting and choosing to meet with business leaders instead. Spokesman of the opposition Democrat Party, Chavanoid Intrakomalaysut, claims that the Yingluck government was forced to end the silence and speak openly with journalists about the meeting only to stop the rumors of the once-secret get-together as kowtowing to the “vested interests” of influential and rich business leaders.

Unless the Bangkok news media can find more to pick on than this, however, the so-called “secret” meeting story probably won’t go anywhere further. But this won’t stop it from trying to embarrass the new PM, still in her first year of office.

By: Brian Canave

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Bangkok Post

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