The Thai stock market took a major hit in recent days with foreigners dumping Thai stocks to the tune of 20 billion baht, as rumors hit the globe, particularly with investors in Hong Kong and Singapore, about the health of the Thai king. The Thai Srtock Market lost about US$20 billions in market capitalization in 2 days after the rumors and both the Thai bond and currency markets shook.
The rumors started in Singapore when the Straits Time, ran an analysis that said the current illness of the Thai King, is bringing up a major concern about risk in Thailand.
At first glance, one may conclude that such a rumor have done significant damage because Thailand has been in such a long-term political crisis now, that Thailand as a country is very weak structurally and fundamentally. With such weakness, the argument is, the risk and threat is very high, if the balance of things tilt just a little.
But rumors can usually be rectified as un-true quite easily. But why is it that in Thailand’s case “truthful reality” has a difficult time asserting itself?
Simply stated, not many people believe what is floating in major Thai communications channels these days. And that is because the Thai society is filled with propaganda and censorship.
As the Thai society is filled with lies and blackouts, even when Thailand needs to tell the truth, very few will believe it. Like the coup of 2006. As rumor of a coup hit, the military kept saying to the eve of the coup that the coup rumor is baseless and there will be no coup.
So have the truth and reality died in Thailand?
Well, just turn on any television in Thailand, and all one would see are government propaganda. There simply is nothing much on the opposition and there is absolutely no “Objectivity or Critical” thinking left on Thai TV. The radio is all but the same. And most newspapers, but for a few, are pro-government.
Like at the Nation Multi-Media Group, that have won several journalistic awards for investigative reporting on corruption, during the time of former Thai prime minister Taksin, but these days, as major corruption scandals hit the government, the group hardly mentions the corruption.
In fact, the Thai ICT Ministry issued a statement two days ago that said over 15,000 websites, have been blocked in Thailand for national security grounds. Every time, the opposition says anything, the government says it will investigate the words if it is a threat to national security.
In fact, the Thai government is now the biggest advertiser in the country. Since it came to power about 9 months ago, the government has spent about 3.5 billion baht on advertisements, bigger than P&G or Coke.
The simple conclusion is, Thailand is paying the price for propaganda and censorship. The fact is, very few give credibility to the words of the Thais anymore!