Thailand: Student publisher bribed to shut down

Thai independent publisher and critic of China Sam Yan Press claim they were offered funds by a Chinese businessman to shut down operations. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the attempt to silence independent media and attack freedom of the press.

The header from Sam Yan Press's Twitter account. The independent student publisher was allegedly offered funds to close its operations. (Credit: Sam Yan Press / Twitter)

At an in-person meeting, a Chinese businessman allegedly offered  Sam Yan Press THB 2,000,000, approximately USD 53,000, if they shut down the independent student publication and provided an official certificate of dissolution. Reports say the publication was not approached by a representative of the Chinese government, but rather by a Chinese businessman hoping to curry favour with Beijing by demonstrating his influence.  

Representatives from the publisher said in an October 26 statement that a private investigative firm in Thailand initially sent an offer to Sam Yan Press staff in May 2022 offering funds if the publisher closed its operations. After this offer was ignored, the same agency attempted to approach Sam Yan Press founder Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal in September through unannounced visits to his home and at the temple where he was in retreat. Sam Yan Press team members also reported receiving several calls and messages stating the urgency of this offer.

Sam Yan Press rejected the offer, saying they refused to have their message co-opted. Representatives from the publication stated that while they felt intimidated by the action, they decided to share the attempt at censorship

The publisher was founded in 2017 by student activists and publishes several promote books on democracy. Sam Yan Press has previously released several books about Chinese politics, focusing on state repression in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, Taiwan’s independence, and pro-democracy Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong.    

The IFJ said: “Silencing independent media for personal gain is completely unacceptable. The IFJ condemns this blatant attack on press freedom and attempt at censorship.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram