Currently on trial under the Computer Crimes Act, Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the director of the Prachatai website (, talks to BK about the relationship between media, the authorities and the people.

I am the seventh of nine children. To support us, my father drove a taxi while my mom had a grocery shop. I grew up watching them work very hard.

My mom was the most influential person for me as a child. She loved reading and passed that on to me.

In university, I mostly spent my spare time on activities like volunteering for rural development camps.

I worked as a writer for a year and then quit. I hated living my life on deadline. I decided to get out before it ruined my love for writing.

I joined the AIDS Access Foundation because I had been interested in that issue since my college days—and also because administrators were downplaying the extent of the problem back then.

The organization was very democratic. No objection was ignored or denied just because it came from a junior. That really taught me to be who I am now.

After I’d been working there thirteen years, Jon Ungpakorn invited me to oversee the Prachatai news website. We felt that mainstream media was in the hands of those who have power or money.

Prachatai tries to be independent so we keep the group small, and have few sponsors, so that we are not limited by them.

Thai law and its enforcement is problematic. Thai laws are written ambiguously.

Most people just want to hear what they already believe, and they distrust the media. It’s time for the media to be watchdog for society.

The rights of the media are to be protected because the media needs to protect the rights of the people.

The media is self-censoring out of fear. And society stays silent.

The media should not be limited. Actually violence results from these limits. When people don’t know what’s going and can’t express what they want, there is increased tension. It is a basic psychological phenomenon that the government should acknowledge.

Being sued on the charges of being “Red Shirt media” is incomprehensible and unjustified. We did not cross any lines that insulted the royal family according to the law. But the problem is that when there are political conflicts, people try to interpret the law for their own benefits and use the law to discredit the opposition.

Winning the Courage in Journalism Prize is an encouragement. It provides me with more opportunities to talk to people and report on important issues.

It’s an encouragement for small people to stand up and speak.

I use my rights to fight for my rights. But que sera sera. If found guilty, I’ll live with it.

Our society doesn’t accept that political conflicts are normal. So we tend to overdramatize them. If we learned to live with conflict, then we could live in harmony. But now the conflicts are too big to be swept under the carpet.

I think the solution is going to take time. There is no shortcut. Thai people need to understand that “it matters” and bring themselves out of the “mai pen rai” mindset.

Bangkok is my home. Not so many people can actually say that. I never felt that until I lived in rural areas for three years. Even in places with better quality of life, I still yearn for Bangkok. My roots, my friends, my family are all here.

Bangkok is selfish. It takes advantages in terms of development from other provinces.

I love the public transport in Bangkok. I love to sit among other people and spend time with my thoughts. This can’t be done in other provinces.

I think a public space is needed, a place for everyone to hang out, not only for the middle class. Bangkokians need more good libraries like TK Park for everyone.

There are limitations on our freedom of expression but no one can take away the freedom to think. We should be able to think differently and see the world from a wider perspective. Not being able to write or speak does not stop us from thinking critically about the world.


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