Monday, November 23, 2009

'Times' under more pressure

Bangkok Post

The government will put more pressure on The Times of London to hand over the recording of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's controversial interview after the news outlet rejected the first request.

The government's request for the audio recording with Thaksin - the transcript of which appeared on The Times' website on Nov 9 - had been rejected with the newspaper citing press freedom, PM's Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey said on Sunday.

Mr Sathit speaks to the media on Sunday.

However, he said, the office would send a letter to seek an explanation as to why The Times had refused to offer the recording of Thaksin's interview.

He said if The Times online is sincere and did not conspire with Thaksin to verbally attack and offend the supreme institution of Thailand, it should send the recording for checking, Mr Sathit said.

Following the publication of the Thaksin interview, the government denounced the ousted premier for offending the monarchy.

Thaksin has maintained that he was loyal to the monarchy and accused The Times of distorting his comments.


The London newspaper that printed an interview with Thaksin Shinawatra focussing on the monarchy has "unofficially" refused to turn over the original tape to the Thai government, PM's Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey said on Sunday.

The government "requested" a copy of the original tape of the interview between The Times newspaper and the fugitive ex-premier, the miinster said.

The interview took place earlier this month, and according to Mr Satit it is "thought to contain material considered offensive to the monarchy."

Mr Sathit told repoerters the daily did not provide a reason why it would not provide the taped interview, but merely said it had the right not to comply with the request.

Mr Sathit said he had again ordered officials to send a request again and ask the daily to "reply officially". He claimed the article hurt the feelings of the Thai people.

The interview was conducted in Dubai where Thaksin is staying in self-imposed exile. The newspaper said the interviewer was Richard Lloyd Parry, a British foreign correspondent who is Tokyo-based Asia editor of The Times.

The ex-premier has claimed the online edition of The Times "distorted" his remarks.

Thaksin was sentenced in absentia in October last year by a Bangkok court to two years' imprisonment for abuse of power by helping his then-wife acquire a parcel of prime Bangkok commercial property at a price far below its market value. (TNA)

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