JUNTA CRITICS Sirote Klampaiboon and Virot Ali were removed from a Voice TV news show yesterday for allegedly being sarcastic and biased against the military-led government.
Voice TV director Prateep Kongsip said in a Facebook post yesterday that these changes had been made because some powers-that-be were dissatisfied with the political analysis. Both critics will be absent from the morning news show at least until October 17, he said.
Sakda Saelew, or “Sia Thairath”, who is known for his satirical anti-junta cartoons, will also be on a break, Prateep added.
“The powers-that-be are strongly dissatisfied with the analysis by both presenters as well as Sia’s cartoons,” the channel’s director wrote, refraining from naming the “powers-that-be”.
“If no changes are made, Voice TV will be in danger.”
This is not the first time that Voice TV, a news station linked to the Shinawatra camp and known for its anti-junta stance, has faced such intimidation. Their freedom has been tested several times since the 2014 coup.
Prior to the ban on Sirote and Virot, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission had ordered the station to stop broadcasting its nightly news programme for 15 days. It was taken off the air because the topic of discussion was the French Revolution.
However, Prateep said his station remained faithful to media freedom and democracy, and that its work has not unlawful.
“We are wrong only because we have irritated the powers that be,” he said. “But ultimately, we reserve the right to fight this in the justice system.”
Meanwhile, Sirote also wrote a long Facebook post on Sunday night, rejecting the allegation of being sarcastic or biased. “The false allegation shamelessly insults my media ethics and intellect,” the critic wrote, adding that he had closely scrutinised all governments, be it that of Abhisit Vejjajiva, Yingluck Shinawatra or Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Sirote also pointed out that the episode that had allegedly “dissatisfied” the powers-that-be did not even feature him, yet he was had ended up being the target. He said this evidenced the intolerance of different views and arbitrary treatment in the country.
“I’m sending out this message in the hope that all who are friendly with me and know about this, will try to end such treatment if possible,” he said.