Thai Enquirer’s Editor-in-Chief Cod Satrusayang’s speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand on 8 January 2020.
I sit before you today not as the editor of a news website, not as a journalist who has covered this region for the past decade but, like many of you, as a concerned Thai citizen. Like you, I am concerned at the direction that this country has taken, not only in its march towards totalitarianism but at the increasing polarisation of our society.
Everyday, we see Thai society increasingly at odds with itself. The very fabric of who we are as Thais is being torn apart not from without but from within. We no longer talk or engage in dialogue but succumb to proselytising and belligerence on social media.
As Yeats once wrote – or should I say warned – in his poem ‘The Second Coming’, which predicted the onset of fascism and eventually the Second World War, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
So why am I telling you all this?
Well, first of all, I do not think it is too late to rectify the course that our country has undertaken. Though I am speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, I have, as of now, relinquished my title as a foreign correspondent. I am a Thai Journalist, working for a Thai publication for the betterment of Thailand. Though my colleagues seated at the table may disagree with me on how we get there, we all do want to get to the same place.
Why do I say this?
Because at Thai Enquirer I believe we will do things differently than traditional journalism, or how the west has defined journalism.
At Thai Enquirer, we will value dialogue, dissenting voices, as well as the voices of those they dissent against. We will seek to be unbiased and fair but also scrutinising and inquisitive. That means sometimes we will give a platform to people who we do not agree with but feel that getting their point of view is paramount to understand a complete picture.
Remember that when Darth Vader goes to sleep he doesn’t think he is a bad guy but rather that he is doing things that are necessary to bring about a better society. We want to understand not just the Lukes and Leias of the world but the Vaders and Jabbas as well.
We will also challenge norms where we believe the norms to be unfair, but we will also highlight the positives and what we admire about this country. Am I under any illusions that this undertaking will be easy? I am not. It is going to be difficult first and foremost because we will be writing exclusively in English.
This automatically eliminates the majority of our countrymen from our content. However, we do feel, that by writing in English we are able to select our audience in a sense. There is a select group of privileged Thais who speak and read in English, this group considers itself to be part of the ruling class.
The larger Thai community that reads English is also the same community that happens to have decision-making privileges in this country. While we did not choose this current state of affairs, we do mean to harness it and speak to it and hopefully influence it.
And while the road is undoubtedly difficult, I do feel thankful. First and foremost, to have such strong support from the community when we announced that we were going to start Thai Enquirer. Going forward, I do hope that not only will you read the content that we put out but also support us and guide us in the things that you find interesting about this country and this region of the world.
I’d like to end by deliberately misquoting Justice Robert H. Jackson. “The wrongs – from the suppression of free speech, the rewriting of our history, the destruction of our democracy – in recent Thai history have been so calculated, so malignant and so devasting that our country cannot tolerate it being ignored because it cannot survive it being repeated.”
I hope all of you here tonight stand with us as we undertake our journey.