This is bad news for a free media and for open dialogue in Thailand. It also further evidences the government’s control over mainstream Thai media.
The owners of the Bangkok Post have buckled under pressure and removed the editor of the newspaper in order to “tone down” its criticism of the ruling junta/government.
In a recent commentary Pandey wrote that “the tactic of pulling various members from the smaller parties to help shore up support for a return to power, the plans to raise funds and all-out spending in the form of populist policies are all being played out by this government to win the hearts and minds of the people.”
Jonathan Head at the BBC noted that “@Umeshbkk gave the Bangkok Post a real editorial edge, and pushed the line against the constraints of an intolerant military government. This is a big loss for the paper.”
In his own words – this is how Pandey announced on Facebook his removal as Editor of the Bangkok Post today.
Dear friends and colleagues
I have been inundated with messages and feel compelled to write this message to let everyone know that YES, the information you have heard and read are correct.
I therefore Thank You all very much for the messages that you have been sending me over the past few hours.
I have been officially removed from the ‘Editor’ of Bangkok Post effective today (May 14, 2018) but as per the memo issued, I remain with the company in a different position.
I don’t need to tell you what the reason for my position is. I guess you all know it by now. The hard-hitting news that we have produced in the 22-months of my leadership is a testament to what we as a team that is down by nearly 60 people have managed to achieve.
The ‘Poll Countdown’ the editorials, the news and everything that we have done has been to push Bangkok Post to be a world class news media outlet.
But when asked to ‘tone down’ I did not budge and was blunt in letting those making the decision that I rather lose my position than to bow my head. The axe finally came down on me just 60-days before my 2-year contract ended.
I feel proud of such an achievement and thank the board for helping make my life easier because as an Editor, it was a 24/7 and 365 days a year job.
Thank you once again for being an avid reader and supporting the organization that I lead until today.
Look forward to keeping in touch going forward.