I have been following the Thai ‘non spy’ in Cambodia affair with interest. In fact I am as usual having a problem reading the newspapers with a straight face. Seems nobody in Thailand has done any real reporting on this case at all, or perhaps I have missed it. Certainly there is so much missing from the English language press. So below is scenario which involves flooding the Bangkok Post news room with hacks from London’s Fleet Street. The coverage might be a bit more sensational, but perhaps a bit more truthful too.
Scene: Editorial newsroom of the Bangkok Post now staffed by ex-journalists from the Daily Mail, Sun, and Mirror. Morning conference:
Editor: Right lads what are we going to do about our national Sivarak Chutipong, who’s been arrested for being spying in Cambodia? I think we’ve got to be a little outraged here. There’s clearly something odd going on. Cambodia’s only national secret is the behavior of its Prime Minister.
News Editor: Well the Cambodian Air Traffic Services (CATS) controls not only Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports but all domestic airports in the country. Our guys are running the air space out there but their website is down. Anyway nothing takes off without them knowing. As for Thaksin he always arrives with a fanfare and does everything but kiss the tarmac. Sivarak told our diplomat what he already knew. Thaksin had already arrived. He could have just popped his head round the corner to have seen that, or told our attach? to turn on his TV. I guess the bandleader knew hours ahead…..There may be a business angle to this too.
City Editor: Yes Samart who own CATS has always been in competition to Thaksin in the communications field. Samart got into Cambodia before Thaksin did. Thaksin does not like losing. I’ll get my guys to look at Thaksin’s investments in Cambodia. Actually Samart probably went in with the wrong guy. They got the first Thai mobile phone contract there. But they got in through their connections to Sun Chanthol, who was then with Prince Rannaridh’s FUNCINPEC party. He is now only in the current government through political expediency and fear, a lot of his opposition mates are now dead or have fled. He’s tipped to go soon too.
Foreign Editor: We’ll we can put a piece together giving a background on Hun. I suggest we start off with the confession by the ex-Phnom Penh police chief Heng Peov. He accuses Hun of being involved in drugs trafficking, the systematic removal by execution of his rivals, ordering the setting off grenades at opposition demonstrations, and there’s always the dead mistress Piseth Pileka.
Editor: Hun? Actually I don’t think Hun is his first name. Better check it out. Think you have to use Hun Sen in full here. Anyway I like the starlet angle.
Gossip page editor: Yes, we can cover that. She is the Cambodian classical dancer who was the former mistress to former Cambodian Police Chief Hoc Lundy, who passed her onto Khun Hun. Sorry Hun Sen. Seems Hun Sen’s wife did not like it though. Seems she asked Lundy to get rid of her. She was shot in broad daylight in Phnom Penh. There’s something a bit Princess Di about her. Everybody loved her even though she was taking pirate gold.
Gossip Editor: Won’t Hun Sen sue us?
Editor: Not in our courts!
Foreign Editor: Yes and Hoc Lundy was not only Cambodia’s police chief, he was also the mafia chief. He was banned from the United States for suspicion of being involved in drugs trafficking, which means they had him bang to rights. He’s dead now though. No libel issues here.
Editor: Okay. And I want to know every cough, spit and fart about this guy Sivarak. We’ve got to find a hero here. See all his friends and relatives. What are his politics? Get the love angle. At the moment he’s looking a bit like a wimp crying for his mummy. Also we need to remind our readers that Thaksin Shinawatra has been convicted of criminal acts of corruption.
News Editor: Are you sure that’s wise. We could lose a few readers.
Editor: Okay, the owners may not like it, just a couple of paragraphs. Don’t go back too far. Thai people will have forgotten. Besides he might be back to jail us next year. Go with the personal stuff on Sivarak.
Editor: What about our man in Phnom Penh?
Foreign Editor:’ He’s keeping a low profile. Scared he might be arrested for plane-spotting. Well actually he has been plane-spotting because we have not paid him for a few months. Its a bit unsafe now. But he was at the airport when Thaksin arrived. We probably knew before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Editor: Turns to secretary: ‘Now can I have that coffee’
‘Off course Hun. I mean Khun Editor’
Next day’s headlines
Front Page: CAM-BODGE-D! THAI HELD ON TRUMPED UP CHARGE
Pages: 3,and 4, THE MONSTER RUNNING CAMBODIA!
Pages: 4,& 5: Picture exclusive. Sivarak Chutipong: from cradle to stinking Cambodian hell hole.
Sign the Petition: BRING BACK OUR BOY!
Pages 6 & 7: Ex-girlfriend speaks for the first time: ‘My gentle lover now sleeping with the rats’
Pages 8 & 9: Cambodian politicians paid in dollars for night in heaven with screen idol.
‘I thought some of her class might have rubbed off on me, then the big boss wanted her all to himself’ ex-police chief tells medium from beyond the grave
Page 10: Best friend: ‘HE WORE A RED SHIRT BUT HAD A YELLOW STREAK TOO!.
City Pages: Thaksin Sinawatra’s cash in Cambodia and new business plans. Plus: Thaksin the new king of the Cambodian skies.
Property: Cambodian poor beg: ‘PLEASE MR. THAKSIN CAN YOU ASK HUN SEN TO GIVE US OUR HOMES BACK?
Headlines today December 16th 2009
Page One: ‘TRAITOR! MUMMY’S BOY HOLD THE HAND OF A MONSTER’
Pages 2 & 3: ‘I want my case raised as a censure motion,’ sobs Sivarak
(at least that’s what mummy says I want)
Page 4: Girlfriend speaks: ‘My boyfriend was a love-rat. He was so bl**dy gentle I didn’t even know he was there! ‘
Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement: ‘OH DO JUST GO HOME SIVARAK!’
Simon Cowell says: ‘Look you guys you need professional management. Even a Thai audience aren’t going to fall for this.’
Footnote: There is a precedent that beats this in terms of a non story which has provided entertainment for millions. In the 80s the British press were given a story about how superstitious Catholic Spaniards threw a donkey off a church tower on St. Wotsit’s Day every year.
Animal loving Brits were horrified. The press were in a frenzy to save the donkey and off went reporters from the Sun, Star, Mirror, and Express. The donkey was called ‘Nigger’ but for PC purposes that was changed to ‘Blackie’. Two or three newspapers rescued ‘Blackie’ or what they thought was ‘Blackie’ bringing their prizes back to the UK.
The stories of what the journalists did to beat each other on the story are legendary, better than many ‘front line’ stories. So is what happened to the poor unfortunate donkeys. I believe now in a certain town in Spain if a black donkey hears there is a British journalist in town, he will climb to the top of the church tower himself and jump off voluntarily.