07 May 2015

ASTV Manager Daily

Sukhumbhand Paribatra, the Governor of Bangkok, has brought a libel action against the ASTV Manager Daily newspaper following an article it printed in yesterday's edition. One of Sukhumbhand's staff filed a complaint on his behalf at a police station in Bangkok today. The article in question is from Manager's satirical Pjkkuan section, which contains parodies and fictitious news stories.

Headlined สุขุมพันธุ์ระดมสาวพรหมจรรย์ปักตะไคร้ไล่ฝน, the article claimed that Sukhumbhand had instructed virgin Bangkok women to plant lemongrass herbs, as this could prevent rain according to a Thai superstition. (Sukhumbhand was criticised in 2011 after Bangkok was affected by severe floods, and earlier this year he joked that anyone who wanted to avoid further flooding should move to live on a mountain.)

Manager is owned by Sondhi Limthongkul, the leader of the PAD who organised street protests against Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006, intentionally provoking the military into staging a coup. Thaksin successfully sued Manager for libel in 2009, following its series of unsubstantiated articles about a 'Finland Plot', and Sondhi has been convicted of libelling Thaksin and his lawyer.

Sondhi has mysteriously avoided jail despite numerous prosecutions and convictions. He led illegal occupations of Government House and Suvarnabhumi airport in 2008, yet the case against him is still pending. In 2013, he was found guilty of lèse-majesté and sentenced to two years in prison; uniquely in a lèse-majesté case, he was granted bail and was not jailed despite the guilty verdict. In 2012, he was convicted after pleading guilty to a one billion baht bank fraud; he received a twenty-year sentence, though he served only eighteen days in jail before being released on bail.