Thailand is in transition. So is the Mekong region, where more than 60 million residents inhabit and share the same river of the mighty Mekong.
After having been through a hard time of the 2014 coup and the post-coup period for 5 years, Thailand is moving forward during this so-called transitional period, during which concerned parties have been attempting to bring democracy back to the society.
Political reform, as such, has dominated the country since.
Nevertheless, it’s undeniable that part of the political conflict and division that Thailand had long endured before ending up with the coup in 2014 is a result of “inequity” which is deep-rooted.
It has long been undermining the country’s strength and values_even democracy itself.
While concerned parties have attempted to address the political issue, such the fundamental challenge somehow has been overlooked.
In short, it gains far less attention than it is supposed to.
The Mekong region, meanwhile, has been moving through no less change and transition. Picking up itself from a long history of the war-torn era in the 1960s, the region has been gearing up to a more comfort zone of economic growth.
High income and high GDPs have long been dreamed of among Mekong countries, with the ultimate goal to turn themselves one day into the middle-income or even developed countries.
But those dreams have also come with a price. Since the Mekong region picked up development at a speed, its foundations, society and the environment, have been degraded or deteriorated as a result.
Social and environmental impacts have been reported all over the region; not to mention the problem-ridden Mekong itself, which all the countries have shared.
Life here has been going fast, too fast, trying to pick up the broken pieces and reshape itself into a new brand identity, and what is left behind is a widening gap, which over time has, in turn, undermined the countries’ foundations.
To move through such a critical transition, these shared foundations must be proportionately addressed alongside development, economic growth, political strength, and such.
And a critical element to help the public in this country and this region to become aware and understand this fundamental challenge is “the power of communication”.
The society here needs to be well informed so that people can learn and understand the issues of importance to their lives, thus being able to transform the knowledge into “social force” that helps drive change.
Having said that, the media in this region face various challenges, from limits on press freedom to manipulation posed by commercial interests, which in turn affect news values and judgments of the newsrooms.
Judgments affected by such commercial interests, in particular, often prompt the newsrooms to leave out issues of importance of people’s everyday life.
Without essential information and knowledge disseminated to the public, people would then not become aware of the problems and take action.
And more critically, the desirable “social force” to help push for change and shape the society into a desirable setting_a free and fair society with strong foundations_ would never stand a chance, accordingly.
A critical change in how the media here are operated is therefore critically needed, including the set-up of a news agency that is in-depth and independent from any pressure.
This is to allow new opportunities for the media to be able to deliver “constructive” news and information critical to public decisions, thus truly serving the public interest.
With “informed and inspired” society, our desirable “social force” could thus stand a chance to take root here to help us address the fundamental challenge that becomes increasingly complex in this modern time_and still bring us, hope.
And that’s all the reasons why we “Bangkok Tribune” are here_as the word “Tribune” says it all_the guardian of people’s rights.