More reputational turbulence ahead for Thailand?

A view of the Bangkok skylineAs expected, the Thai government continues to ratchet up its rhetoric. On May 7, the military-backed government announced that it plans to sue YouTube for allowing clips it deems to infringe its lese majeste law. In fact, I was just in Bangkok over the weekend when a friend sent me a YouTube link to a music video. Unthinkingly, I clicked on the link, only to be informed via a pop-up that the site has been blocked. Meanwhile, the website was kindly directed to what appeared to be the information ministry’s portal. Even if there were domestic Thais who wanted to access YouTube for innocuous purposes (or to post opposing video clips that supported their king), they couldn’t. Such a blunt tool suggests either a lack of PR savvy or perhaps a total disregard. See here for an AFP report.

Meanwhile, on Saturday evening, a small bomb exploded in a telephone booth near the Chitrala Palace in Bangkok. The palace is largely ceremonial now, with the King having moved to the seaside resort town of Hua Hin many years ago and his family spread out over several residences around Bangkok. There are skeptics who say that the military may in fact “allow” (or even engineer?) periodic disorder or instability to justify its continued hold on the government. In an earlier Bangkok bombing that took place on New Year’s Eve (for which until now no arrests have been made), the police incredulously suggested that Thaksin or his proxies were the masterminds, which damaged its credibility. See here for a Reuters report.

Finally, even as the military junta announced that it would put an American PR agency on a 3-month remit to burnish its tainted image, deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra said that he would end his relationship with Edelman to quell talk that the agency had orchestrated negative publicity against Thailand at his behest. See here for an article by Bangkok’s The Nation.

What will all these mean for Thailand? What, if anything, can a purportedly 3-month PR campaign do to salvage the reputation of a country so deeply mired in trouble that seems so much more fundamental than a case of a bad PR? Check out Michael Netzley’s thoughts if he were to be handed that brief.

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1 Response to “More reputational turbulence ahead for Thailand?”


  1. 1 Michael Netzley May 8, 2007 at 12:26 am

    David, this is a nice entry. With my recent travel I have fallen behind on the news and am still writing about the press clippings I have remaining from last week. Certainly this is a sad situation and it makes me feel for the people of Thailand. Let’s hope for some good news soon.

    Keep up the great work!


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