IFJ Supports Bangkok Post Journalists’ Efforts to Save Editors

The International Federation of Journalists today declared its full support for journalists from the Bangkok Post in their efforts to save two editors from losing their jobs.

Editorial staff from the Bangkok Post met today to discuss concrete ways to support the two editors in response to unconfirmed reports that those responsible for an article published on August 9, about alleged cracks in the new airport runway, would lose their jobs.

“Outrageous civil penalties, criminal defamation and the possibility of losing your job are not mechanisms designed to restore possible damage to the claimant’s reputation but are tools used to silence the media,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

“If the article was printed in good faith, with a belief it was factually correct and in the public’s interest, then terminating their employment is a clearly disproportionate punishment especially after the paper’s quick retraction of the story,” said Warren.

The Bangkok Post has set up an in-house investigative committee, chaired by Post editor-in-chief Pichai Chuensuksawadi, to investigate the incident. The editors are facing possible suspension, transfer or termination of employment.

Almost 50 Bangkok Post editorial staff signed an appeal calling on the panel to be lenient towards the two editors.

The article in question published on August 9, quoted an anonymous source saying that US aviation experts invited by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to view the airport had found severe cracks in the runways. The Bangkok Post retracted the statement and printed a prominent apology on August 10.

Despite the retraction, the Airport of Thailand (AoT) and the New Bangkok International Airport Co. (NBIA) filed a criminal lawsuit against the Post Publishing Plc and its editor Kowit Sanandang on August 15. The plaintiffs are seeking the Post to pay for full-page ads in countries such as the USA, the UK and Italy and one hour clarifications in media networks like CNBC, CCTV and BBC every day for 15 days. The Plaintifs are also considering a 1 billion BHT (US$25 million) civil suit.

The IFJ, the global organisation representing 500,000 journalists’ worldwide, supports the Bangkok Post editorial staff in their efforts to keep the two editors from losing their jobs and calls on the in house committee to come to a decision that takes into account the right of the public to correct and fast information and the nature of a newsroom.

For more information please contact Lara Hook in Thailand on +66 67360969 or IFJ President Christopher Warren on +61 411 656 668

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries worldwide