Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wikileaks Thailand cables tell #thaistory

Andrew MacGregor Marshall*, formerly a journalist for Reuters, has published #thaistory based on the contents of diplomatic cables released originally obtained by WikiLeaks. The story should reveal many details about the inner workings of Thai politics including revelations about the role of the palace**.

Any public discussion of these matters in Thailand is prevented by the lese majeste law. In the prologue to Part One of #thaistory Marshall notes that, "Discussion of  the reality  among Thais  is  relegated  to private conversations or oblique  references using coded imagery and parables. The truth about the palace's enormously influential role in Thai politics and economics cannot be uttered openly in public."

In an article in The Independent Marshall discusses some of the reasons why he resigned from his job at Reuters in order to publish #thaistory. The money quote is, "Thailand is sliding backwards into authoritarianism and repression. And one stark indication of this is that just saying it is illegal."

Part One of #thaistory is now available online as a pdf file. I have only read part way through it, but it explores in detail the life of King Bhumibol and is based on a number of academic sources as well as the diplomatic cables.

Part Two should be released tomorrow (24 June). According to a tweet from Marshall, "Part 3 (events from 2006 coup to 2010) and 4 (conclusions and predictions) will be online within a week." I will update this post with links as they become available.

The cables the story is based on are being published on Marshall's website www.zenjournalist.com. WikiLeaks cables from Thailand can also be found at thaicables.

*Andrew MacGregor Marshall who published #thaistory should not be confused with Bangkok-based journalist Andrew Marshall who writes for TIME and other publications. Andrew MacGregor Marshall tweets at @zenjournalist. The other Andrew Marshall tweets at @journotopia.

** I use the word "palace" not just to refer to the royal family, but to describe in more general terms how the monarchy is used, manipulated and appropriated by a range of players in the Thai political scene.

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