After all the criticism, how does it feel to have won this award?
I don’t care. I don’t care that I’ve gone from traitor to superwoman journalist. I just hope this award can make people in this city understand the humanitarian issues that surround them; there are so many people living in misery whose fate is unknown.
How do you respond to those who say your reporting is too dramatic?
I don’t deny that my reporting is dramatic, especially during the Rohingya reports. I was the only journalist allowed to accompany the Thai Navy and observe their operation. My cameraman already went back to shore as his camera ran out of battery and we needed to send news to the station that night. I decided to go alone with my iPhone and took all the clips myself to show how bad the conditions faced by Rohingya immigrants were. Those men were so skinny and no one on board knew how to control the boat properly. Children and women were crying and begging for help as they were pushed outside Thai territory with no idea where they were headed. While I work as a journalist, I’m still a human. If my job is about telling the truth, I have to do my job. I had these clips in my phone and had a chance to tell these people’s story, so why not? If I hadn’t done so, how could I live in peace? Their faces will haunt me for the rest of my life.
How do you feel about the rifts which your reports on the Rohingya have stirred up in Thai society?
I never expected my reports to stir up so much drama between Thai people. There are those who support humanitarian processes and those who don’t. Social media lets people vent their anger more easily. I do feel guilty that I may have caused some Thais to hate Rohingya, but I don’t feel sorry for broadcasting the story to the world.
Have you ever been threatened due to your work?
Many times. I even had a six-figure price put on my head by powerful businessmen when I tried to expose a scheme involving deforestation and corruption seven years ago.
How do you feel about the current state of Thai journalism?
We have many more reporters than before, but just a few of them do investigative news. I feel journalists today don’t do much investigation, don’t research the topic, go to the source, find the right subject in the field and bring back news that no one’s heard before. The outcome is we have news stories which are all the same.
Which of your reports are you most proud of?
It would be my recent work, investigating Thai sailors left in Indonesia for a decade before being rescued by the Thai government. I’m also proud of my work during the 2011 Japan tsunami, when I spent nearly two weeks tracking down Thai victims. I finally found them in Sendai and was the only one to report on them. Their family back in Thailand cried when they discover those were still alive.