Is Bangkok Post really playing fair?


BANGKOK, Thailand (eTN) – The Bangkok Post is Thailand’s most influential English-speaking newspaper with a solid reputation for respectability. Following the recent of articles attacking the Pacific Asia Travel Association, the newspaper chief editor should maybe look back at its way to provide one-sided information on the tourism and travel industry. This certainly goes beyond the newspaper’s role of being an impartial observer of economic and social life in Southeast Asia.

The Bangkok Post remains an excellent source of reference on Thailand’s tourism and travel industry with its team of editors looking at various issues every week. This team is complemented by columns edited by independent travel specialists.

But, the Bangkok Post seems to also have difficulties drawing a line between revenge feeling of some of its columnists and the general interest for its readership. Since late 2007, the Bangkok Post published up to five columns on PATA CEO Challenge event and its presumable failure. What was the point for the newspaper to repeatedly edit a column from a writer who obviously had his own personal agenda and who had been previously paid by PATA and dismissed for private reasons? Where was then the interest for BK Post readers? At least, the Bangkok Post should have either disclose the information on the previous relation between the columnist and PATA. Or it should have just balanced the columns by asking PATA or anyone else to also address the newspaper’s readership on the same topic. Should a newspaper not always provide balanced information – negative or positive- about a single institution? In the case of PATA, despite its possible weaknesses and mistakes, the association has been over the years an invaluable voice for Asia-Pacific tourism as it is involved in various tourism development projects, in tourism research, in travel shows, to name just a few.

PATA is not the only case where the Bangkok Post went beyond the role expected from an international newspaper. In the last two months, the newspaper has, for example, published almost five to six stories only about regional carrier Bangkok Airways. And back a few years ago, activities of the low cost carrier Thai AirAsia was only seen from the fact that it belonged to the Shinawatra Group, a business conglomerate from ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and consequently benefited from “special” development conditions. If it was probably true that Thai AirAsia enjoyed advantages of its close political connections, the Bangkok Post just omitted to highlight also the positive impact of the carrier on air transport in Thailand. Denouncing political collusion between Thai AirAsia and Thaksin was indeed a good point. Unfortunately, it is nothing very unusual in Thailand or in the rest of Southeast Asia. But the Bangkok Post did not look at this side of the story as well.