THE crowd of reporters who attended the funeral rites of popular Thai actor Thrisadee “Por” Sahawong on Tuesday have been heavily criticized online for their behavior.
Social media platforms were rife with outrage at the incident, calling the crush of people who had pushed past protective barriers to photograph the actor’s body as “disrespectful”.
Por, 37, passed away on Monday at Ramathibodi Hospital, Bangkok from complications related to dengue fever after spending more than two months in a coma.
His body was transported back to his hometown in Buriram province for the funeral rites, where his body will be cremated this Sunday.
Well-known Thai director Suvinit Pornnavalai posted a picture of the chaotic scene at the funeral on his Facebook, condemning the media over the issue.
“Reporters destroyed the barriers. The sheet covering Por’s face almost came off. The monk was pushed off. #ThisIsShit,” he wrote.
นักข่าวทลายแผงกั้น ผ้าคลุมหน้าพี่ปอเกือบหลุด พระสงฆ์ยังโดนเบียด #เหี้ยไปมั๊ยเมิง #RIPPortid -@DoMeMyKa
Members of the media had also harassed Por’s family, taking photos of his widow, Vanda, and two-year-old daughter Mali at the hospital.
An online petition on Change.org has gone viral, calling for Thai media to improve their professional ethics. The petition had 25,414 supporters at the time of publishing.
On Wednesday, the News Broadcasting Council of Thailand issued a formal apology to the family of the late TV star as well as members of the public for the unbecoming behavior of the broadcast media in the coverage of Por’s funeral.
“The media has been accused of violating the privacy and dignity of the deceased and his family. We accept the criticisms, which should serve as a lesson for the council to improve the conduct and standard of quality among the broadcast media,” said the council.
The council also promised to hold a meeting of representatives from local media outlets to discuss the matter with the hope of laying down a set of guidelines for improving their standard of quality.
This is not the first time critics have called into question the lack of ethics and regulation among Thai media practitioners.
In the 2014 murders on Koh Tao island, many Thai media outlets chose to disclose personal information about the victims, including their full names and, in at least one case, publishing their passport pictures before the victims’ next-of-kin had been notified, which is considered a serious breach of journalistic ethics.
Additionally, in 2013, the decision to publish the full name and personal identification of a Scottish student who was gang raped in the southern Thai city of Nakhon Si Thammarat was also widely criticized.