Whether in the past or present, politics and media have always come together. The media is used as a platform both to inform people about political situations and to use it as a tool for election campaigns or speeches. The influence of the media can make audiences believe and change their political attitudes according to the public image. Therefore, it cannot be denied how important the media is in the midst of Thai political situations in the past and present.
Relations of the media and Thai politics in history
In 1932, a pivotal year in the reign of King Rama VII when Khana Ratsadon (the People’s Party) had a coup against him and led to a major change in Thailand which is the change of governance from absolute monarchy to become a constitutional monarchy. Then King Rama VII renounced the throne to his nephew, Prince Ananda Mahidol became King Rama VIII. At that moment, Thailand that was governed by Khana Ratsadon began to collapse because of the sudden death of King Rama VIII, causing his brother Prince Bhumibol to become King Rama IX. Two coup d’états in 1947 and 1957 ended khana Ratsadon’s power and the country entered a royalist-militarist era. Thailand entered the era of military dictatorship led by Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat and General Thanom Kittikachorn and had inherited military power from Field Marshal Praphat. But it had to end with a democratic movement led by university students. Bringing to another important event in Thai history “October 14, 1973” that is similar to the coup d’etat in 1932.
The media became a mediator of the struggle between the military government and People’s party during October 1973.
Government military has used media control to attack the Democrats causing distortion and various rumors create a rebellious image for Khana Rat Sadon
The use of media to end violence.
King Rama IX gave a speech on radio and television asking all parties to stop the violence and appoint Professor Sanya Thammasak, Chancellor of Thammasat University, Privy Councilor and President of the Buddhist Association of Thailand as prime ministers.
On the same day, Prof. Sanya Thammasak, the new Prime Minister, has used the media as a space to give a televised speech, asking all parties to return to peace. and announced the use of the constitution within 6 months.
After the overthrow of the military dictatorship in 1991, Thailand again faced instability through a short time of coup d’état and in 1992 from the political succession of NPKC (the National Peace Keeping Council) causing the event of “Black May”.
Later, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej ordered general Suchinda Kraprayoon and major general Chamlong Srimuang attended by giving a speech to the delegation of visitors which has been published through the television media, including the Special Task Force of Thailand After that, General Suchinda has announced his resignation as Prime Minister and Anand Panyarachun returned to serve as Prime Minister again.
Red Vs Yellow!
Another era in which the media “Television” plays an increasingly significant role in politics.
Political TV began to appear as a new element in Thai politics since the time when Police Lieutenant General Thaksin Shinawatra served as Prime Minister during 2005 – 2006, and there was a wave of violence “Anti-Thaksin” started by ASTV of the People’s Alliance for Democracy called ” The Yellow Shirts” in reality TV that led by Sondhi Limthongkul. The emergence of ASTV was a result of the media blockade during Thaksin’s government due to Sondhi’s TV program “Muang-Thai-Rai-Sup-Da” on Channel 9 MCOT was suddenly removed because of heavy criticism of Thaksin’s government.
After ASTV became widely popular, especially among the anti-Thaksin people. On the opposite side, who wanted to protect Thaksin, “The Red Shirts” also tried to use the same method to solve the game by opening the same TV program and distributing information in a supportive manner “Thaksin and the Thai Rak Thai Party government” via satellite television station MV1, with key moderators Samak Sundaravej, Veera Musikapong, Jatuporn Promphan and Nattawut Saikua as a procession head.
In 2011, The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) was established and organized for these political television channels. However, various political channels are divided, such as Blue Sky of The People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) or People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy with the King as Head of State (PCAD), which is an important movement of the People’s Committee for the transformation of Thailand into a complete democracy with the King as Head of State.
Even with the establishment of the NBTC, the organization of these political TV shows was not taken seriously. Those media continued to broadcast unethical propaganda and full of hate speech that increased violence as the conflict in society.
The beginning of “คสช.” (NCPO)
When the last coup took place in 2014, led by General Prayut Chan-o-cha to overthrow the government of Yingluck, the prime minister at that time. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 15 has led to the shutdown of 14 political TV channels/stations, including almost all of the channels mentioned above, and other channels that have broken lines from the same side, such as DNA, UDD, MV Channel 5, Channel Asia Update and P&P, All of the red shirt side’s channel, The ASTV, Blue Sky, and T News channels were also shut down.
“Return happiness to the people of the nation”
A TV program named “keun-kwam-suk-hai-kon-nai-chat” Return happiness to the people of the nation is a television program created by the National Council for Peace and Order to serve as a channel for communication and understanding between the government and audiences At first, the program will be run by General Prayut Chan-o-cha. The military government has scheduled every television station to only publish the NCPO program by not publishing anything other than these announcements. It has been criticized by Voice TV, a news agency, as a propaganda and a ban on freedom of information.
Although it has been more than five years since the show has been going on, it has not received the attention of the public as it should, even after the program has been renamed to “Thailand Moves Forward” and used Thai superstars to conduct the show.
New Media in Politics
Politics on social media has gained more attention in the past few years, with the overwhelming expression of the political views of the younger generation on online platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. It is an important influence that will create popularity with the new generation as well as being able to reach people easily and quickly. However, it looks like the government has Social media as their political weakness. Even the leader of the party and the Prime Minister Prayut has a Facebook page named “ประยุทธ์ จันทร์โอชา Prayut Chan-O-Cha” with more than 1.3 millions of followers and many social media platforms of the government. But mostly comments on the page went in a sarcastic direction rather than supporting.
In contrast, the opposition Progress Party “Move Forward” (former name Future Forward) has been successful in using social media as a key platform
Most of their work is presented online.
Divided into three parts
1. Disclosure of details about the work of the members of the House of Representatives in each committee The MPs working in any committee will bring the results of the meeting to be disclosed via online platforms.
2. Responding to political issues
3. An important party’s position statement has been added to a live broadcast strategy so that party supporters can see the party’s progress on important issues. especially the committee meetings on important issues that people’s attention to.
At present, the Move Forward Party MPs, who are constantly moving online, also use the media as a space to express their opinions and criticize the government’s work honestly.
and the Progressive Movement, led by Mr. Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Mr. Piyabutr Sankanokkul, disseminated information on their political views and shared the contents of Move Forward Party.
Another prominent group in the social media movement is the “Free Youth”
The awakening of the ally movement from a major student group with Social media as a key weapon in activism, pressure and resistance against governments.
Using the presentation of “Infographics” that come from each of the coalition groups are posted on Facebook, Twitter is becoming influential.
The number of Facebook followers from major coalition groups that formed to oust the government ranges from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of people, for example Facebook “Free People” has 1 hundred thousand followers; Facebook “Free Youth” There are more than 2 million followers, especially the leaders of the rally which gain equally of people interest.
Politics and the media are constantly adapting to each other for the same purpose is the ability to access audiences. And from the above information, it proves to us that the media is another important tool of politics, no matter how the times change, politics still depends on the media. Don’t you think it’s inseparable?