This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Human Rights, ROK) As Ambassador at Large for Human Rights, ROK, I welcome all the human rights activists from across Asia to Gwangju. This city is a city of our immense pride that symbolically completed democracy building and closed a chapter of the human rights struggle in Korea during the period of 20 years from the late 1960s. For many selfless souls who made invaluable sacrifices and gave up their life to the laudable goal, let me express my deepest sorrow at their death. I know that the May 18 Memorial Foundation works hard to share our solemn experiences we gathered in a great democracy city of Gwangju with our neighbors, in particular those still in a fight against dictatorship, toward our common objective of true democracy. Gwangju Prize for Human Right and Democracy Forum speak volumes of the Foundation's commitment to the goal. I don't believe that not a single country on the face of the Earth could state that they carry spotless human rights records. Hence, it should be our honest acknowledgement that some of us may be relatively better in some fronts than others in such areas as implementation of human rights promotion and protection instruments and execution of democratic principles. In this sense, we must carry out the joint investigation of the effectiveness of democracy and human rights protection, confirm our common obligations to the implementation of democracy, and fight together to the goal. Of course, there should be no doubt that the battle should be a peaceful one. To do that, we have to share our hard-earned experiences, and in the process, our sense of camaraderie will only grow stronger for our joint effort. This sense of camaraderie will serve a foundation for mutual assistance and I'm well aware that's the reason why we are gathered in the city together. Your host country, Korea, has won over dictatorship and is now witnessing a relatively high level of democracy. However, it is equally true that there is pain still felt in many parts of the society on our path toward the establishment of a true democracy. No doubt we are faced with so many daunting tasks: making the current demonstration execution more peaceful in terms of human rights protection, the abolishment of the
National Security Law and capital punishment, the introduction of an alternative military service system, the human rights promotion of foreign workers and North Korean defectors North Korean nuclear weapons threat and North Korean human rights protection, just to name a few. Because we have so many issues at hand, it makes so much more imperative we share our wisdom to find a key to resolve them. People working for the United Nations often say that if you don't see it in Asia, you won't see anywhere in the world. Some countries in the region we live in enjoy one of the highest levels of economic prosperity, while others have yet to find a way to get out of abject poverty. There are advanced democratic economies guaranteeing transparency and civil participation, when their neighbors put up a long and hard fight against militaristic dictatorship for a real democratic state. Not only does Asia host the world's four major religions in it, but also it is a home to more than a half of the world's population. The continent's wide variety and diversity calls for a close cooperation from us all. This makes this meeting even more important in that we come together to reject any type of war for the universal values of peace, justice and sustainable development me and to build an Asia that endeavors to construct a land of an equally comfortable life for all people. Now, I'd like to look at the current status of human rights and democracy in Asia. Let me start with Burma. The National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won more than 80% votes at the 1988 General Election, but it has yet to take over the political power under the military government's oppression. It has been engaged in non-violent and peaceful demonstrations to build a democratic government for the last 20 years. They do need us to strengthen our solidarity. Meanwhile, a thousand-year-old Hindu culture has left India a legacy of caste. Now the over 200 million untouchable who call themselves Dalits or Harijans are treated contemptuously. They tolerate unbearable discrimination everyday just to get by. Then, what can we do to change the abhorrent human rights condition? Its neighbor, Pakistan's Blasphemy Laws officially advocates Muslim superiority. It tramples down rights and freedom of people who believe in other religions. And what could be concrete measures to bring the racial conflicts between Sinhala and Tamil, which has continued since 1983, to reconciliation and peace?
The death of around two million Khmer tribe people was a repercussion of the rivalry betweenthe US and the USSR during the Cold War era, but at the same time, their sacrifice is calling for the advanced nations to take up the responsibility. Then, it should also be our common concern on how to eradicate corruption and realize harmony between different political parties. What can be done for the human rights issues of aborigines in Australia and New Zealand? What is the right course of actions for us to address North East Asians' racial discrimination issue? What are millions of migrant workers toiling in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan calling for? And when their human rights issues need longterm strategies in the sending and the recipient countries alike, what is our role as human rights activists and what can this meeting do? We are more than aware that there are so many other common tasks we have to tackle that I didn't elaborate too much today. The uphill battles are the following: healing racial clashes and establishing democracy in Indonesia, building true democracy and abating corruption, creating democracy in East Timor, mitigating floods, famine and poverty in Bangladesh, peace in North East Asia, a Taiwan issue, land reform in the Philippines, reducing bi-polarization, racial conflicts in Malaysia, and many more issues that deserve our solidarity. Taking this opportunity, I sincerely hope Gwangju Forum for Asian Human Rights serves as and will continue to serve as a venue to collect our ideas and wisdom to address and ultimately resolve the aforementioned issues. Gwangju is fast becoming a city of human rights promotion in the world. It successfully held a summit meeting for Nobel Peace Prize winners in June this year and it also works hard to bring to harmony and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula to a peaceful unification. I urge you to give us your invaluable advice to help the city realize its dream, and once again I wish success of this meeting and in your endeavor.
Media and Democracy in the Philippines As of October 18, at least 80 journalists have been killed since 1986 when democracy was restored in the Philippines after the ouster of President Ferdinand Marcos in a People Power revolt that won international admiration. The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines and the International Federation of Journalists ranked the Philippines as the second most dangerous country for journalists, next to Iraq. Most of these killings occurred in the countryside where the victims are within close range of their perpetrators who are targets of media exposes. As of today, most of these cases have not been resolved. Ironically, Philippine media has earlier been described as one of the freest Asia. Also as of October 18, at least 42 libel cases have been filed by First Gentleman Miguel Arroyo in addition to hundreds of libel cases filed by politically powerful personalities against journalists, including myself. Many journalists continue to receive threats to their (and their families’) lives and safety. If media’s role is to be a vanguard of freedom in a democratic society, with the figures above, Philippine democracy is seriously threatened, which brings black memories of the Martial Law years. History shows that colonial and elite power tends to control and dominate Philippine society, including media, which is an influential institution. With the majority of Filipinos clamoring for change, media is faced with the challenge of fulfilling its mission. Catalyst of Change: The People Power Phenomenon I was just a kid when President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972. I was living in the island of Mindoro and was enjoying the fantasy shows on
TV. Later, I learned that grim reality of what was happening. Human rights violations flourished, media was censored, and those outfits that were attacking the government were shut down. In 1983, I saw on TV a man assassinated at the Manila international airport. I saw my father very disturbed as if it was a matter of great national interest. And it was! For the man was Ninoy Aquino, an intelligent and courageous outspoken critique of the Marcos administration. Later, I learned that it was to mark a milestone in Philippine democracy. When the public was at the height of its discontentment and desire for change, media played its role in promoting human rights and restoring democracy. For instance, Radio Veritas managed to operate in an unknown location and served the public information on the real state of the nation and walked with the people from various sectors in their march for their rights, truth, freedom and peace. Of course, there was fear for one’s life and family. But many believed that democracy was worth dying for. In 1986, along the Epifanio delos Santos Avenue or EDSA, the powers of evil and good came to a deadlock. Tanks, armed soldiers and helicopters were waiting for Marcos’ signal to attack. The nuns were symbols of faith as they prayed for a change in heart and mind. Nobody knew what will happen next. Media captured these breathtaking moments until it announced that Marcos was taken by a US chopper and flown to Hawaii. There were emotions of big relief and victory. The power of goodness prevailed. Democracy was back. The new constitution guaranteed the right of every Filipino to true information and for media, a freer space. I believe, though, that just as champions of democracy in the media emerged during the Marcos dictatorship, they will be awakened in greater strength and with deeper conviction that, indeed, a committed, courageous and responsible media is indispensable in a democracy. Champions of Democracy Martial Law gave birth to a number of champions of democracy. Two of them have
been given the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Literature, Creative Communications and Journalism. Interestingly, both are women. This year, it is Eugenia Apostol. She is the founding chair of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which chronicled the Filipinos’ struggle for democracy. Behind her lipstick and this soft-spoken woman is a warrior for press freedom. Two years ago, it was Shiela Coronel, one of the founders of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ). Her group unraveled the mysteries of the mansions and mistresses, billions of pesos of commission from illegal gambling (jueteng payoffs) and perks for cronies, which helped in President Erap Estrada’s ouster through in-depth and investigative reporting which was used by the government for investigations. On February this year, during the promulgation of emergency rule (EO 1017) of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the NUJP spearheaded meetings among national media managers. It became a venue for solidarity for press freedom among media organizations. The NUJP continues to organize chapters all throughout the country (with at least 30 chapters) in pursuit of press freedom, professionalism, journalists’ safety and benefits. Issues and Prospects Meantime, the following are some urgent issues and recommendations on media and democracy in the Philippines:
Issues Killings of journalists
Interventions Recommendations Support funds, Trauma healing documentations and follow management- NUJP up on cases, scholarships for the children-NUJP
Witness protection program Stress de-briefing (Damalerio case, Pagadian (individualized – e. g. beer- City) drinking, watching Korean
meditations, Immediate resolution cases by authorities
Safety trainings - NUJP, International News Safety Institute (South East Asian office based in Manila) Filing of libel cases Petitions going on for the decriminalization of libel Congress (about 600 Filipino journalists, 50 international journalists and organizations signed) Continuing threats and Organizing for economic harassments on media and other benefits practitioners (unionizing) Alliance building Critique on some media as Monitoring and immediate profit-oriented, feedbacks on media irresponsible and negative practice (e. g. Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility) Integration of peace and positive reporting Incentives and awards for best media practices- NUJP (best ethical practice) Training journalism NUJP on and basic ethicsSupport to the petition
Survey on the economic condition (and categorization) of journalists especially with globalization- NUJP
Three appeals are also urgent: Solidarity with Filipino journalists, particularly on the call to end killings, fund assistance and case documentations (fact finding).
My Asian Democracy Just an Introduction “Everyone must set his own cause, taking the rough seas with the calm” One contentious topic for commentators observing social, political and economic development in Asia over the past four decades have been how rapid economic growth has not necessarily been accompanied by similar levels of political and institutional development. The much lauded success of the ‘East Asian Tigers’ initially gave many commentators in the West pause for thought – in that how was such levels of development could take place in so brief a period? Was it a serious rejoinder against the conventional wisdom of orthodox ideas on development? In fact prior to the regional economic crises of the late nineteen nineties, certain Western leaders were suggesting that there were perhaps lessons to be drawn from Southeast Asia in effective national management. This position changed considerably in the wake of the economic crises, where charges of cronyism, nepotism, and corruption were levied against various countries in the region. Many commentators have pointed to the ‘democratic deficit’ – the lack of proper institutional and social reform required for effective democratization which is seen as a serious impediment to political and institutional development in the region. However, the extent to which, and the nature of these issues – ranging from ethnicity to religion – differ considerably in different countries. Asia, the biggest continent of the world has a population of 3.6 billion people. This number accounts to almost half of the world population. Ecologically, culturally and most important, politically, Asia has the most diverse and rich build. In recent history of Asian politics, its democratic dimension has taken vast improvements, and today most of the Asian countries have adopted a democratic system, in whatever form they define it. To discuss the forms of democracy in Asia will take its toll as to be strongly connected, historically yet at the same time diverse culturally, thus making it academically complicated and generally long winded. I hope this simplified paper that tried to look at some forms and transforms of democracy in Asia would fulfill the
expectations of the audience, be it at times, some matters tend to be generalized. Most of Asian countries (in 31 countries) have selected their leaders by direct election except for some socialist guided countries and Myanmar (and meantime - Thailand). Within this circle of the democracy, the idea and standard of practicing basic principles of democracy, like elections and human rights are still very commonly vague. Backed by the popular (but overrated and misinformed) notion of ‘democracy in its own form’, the democratic space within and inter states are often very limited, only seems free when being played around in support of different political agendas of the ruling elites. Worth mentioning, statements made in this paper have no relationship to poverty and illiteracy issues, although many ‘thinkers’ from ‘matured’ democratic states often relates tie them up together. I am convinced that democracy is a simple system, made by and for all. It can be simple to the illiterate while at the same time complicated to the learned – vice versa. What shifts it from simplicity to complexity are systems created by the political players, and again, the ruling elites. Recent political changes in Afghanistan have permitted active political participation to men and women. This tremendous achievement in Afghanistan has given the country a new beam of hope, a hope for a structural political change. A great moment to Afghanistan, nevertheless, that young democracy is now on its journey along the tricky road of self determination. Though the road to its democracy has been highly criticized, the newly placed system should be supported and it is imperative that Afghanistan’s democracy should be carefully monitored and managed by its own people. I hope it would be clear to them that their election should not elect a president of their country but their election should elect a president of their people. In another country, a leader remained imprisoned. Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the landslide 1988 election of Myanmar, is still under house arrest, a gloomy side of an Asian democratic perspective. Several Asian neighbors that strongly support democratization movement in Myanmar however have some flaws in their interpretation of democracy. Thailand for instance, a staunch supporter of Myanmar’s road map to democracy just showed Myanmar and the world of their lack of respect to human and civil rights in the Tak Bai Tragedy. It is indeed very difficult for a crab to teach others to walk straight. In addition to this, the tragedy has also caused a vacuum in terms of leadership of peace promotion in Indochina. The role Thailand has successfully
played as a key player in promoting democracy in this region is doubtful after this tragedy. One blessing in disguise from the Southern Thailand tragedy is that countries like Malaysia and Indonesia is actively participating in discussing the issue. Are we looking at the slow dissolve of the insignificant (to regional peace) ASEAN accord of non-interference of the states? Indeed an interesting reform to monitor. Political violence is widespread in developing countries especially during the election period. Both physical and mental aggressions are tools for powerful candidates’ agents/canvassers to eliminate their rivals and gain the votes. Electoral impunity is common because many political related crimes have not been brought to justice, and in some extreme cases, the perpetrators are still in power. Threatening and intimidation of the opposition’s candidates, party agents, journalists and NGOs are also common in Cambodia, Thailand, Philippines, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Malaysia. Furthermore, to the benefit of certain political agendas, religious leaders have been used for direct and indirect political campaigns. Vote buying in cash and in kind is ever popular in many countries in the region. In addition to that, money politics is growing not only in the poor areas but it also growing among the parties especially when the weak/small parties want to merge with the rich ruling parties. Some might argue that there is nothing wrong with the parties’ merger and politicians to change their camps. True as it is, however, the bitter reality is that when politicians’ changes ideologies and camps, the greatest losers are the voters. Often, when this happens, election promises will be a statement of the past. Money and power has also found its way to infiltrate the media. To drop a few examples, in Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, it has become very clear that the media is not very interested in reporting news. They are interested more in making the news, engineering it for the benefit of political actors. In the light of political parties, most experienced political parties and candidates do not only campaign for their policy in the election. Non-independent media reporting have been and will always be one of the biggest obstacles to the growth of political freedom and democracy. So, Ladies and gentlemen, what is then our achievement through the democratization movement in Asian region? Although it seems that democracy has developed in Asia over the last 50 years, things
have not changed so much – for the better. Now, especially at the local level, capitalists have become one with politicians forming a ruling elite class. Capitalists, sponsors to politicians – who later become rulers of a modern state, lives in political patronage system and feed themselves through rent seeking activities. The ironic thing is, all these are justified through the ballot box. At another end, debate and discussion on issues related to ethnicity has had limited exposure, certainly in public, but this is also true of discussions and dialogue that cuts across cultural and religious boundaries in a historically and culturally informed way. Genuine concerns and grievances, generally, when they cross these basic boundaries are curtailed. Informed and rigorous public debate, critical to the development of democratic culture, have been underdeveloped due possibly, to the lack of public space for open discussion and the underwhelming role of public and private agencies in fostering dialogue. Some of these issues are descriptive of situations in many countries around the region – albeit in different ways. A useful exercise would be to examine the various experiences in comparative terms and share some of the similarities and differences that exist. I am certain, that this would give an opportunity for better understanding and provides a more effective basis for democratic transitions and transformations as well as allowing for a more meaningful interaction between states either regionally or in a broader context. Ladies and gentlemen, it was in my intention to give a speech that is full of high points and good stories about achievements of democratization in Asia. I am sorry if I fail to do so. What I offered was an observation. The game and sexy term ‘democracy’ is often very misleading and confusing to me, as it is better played and preached by elites, while the poor remains on the stand - cheering in starvation. Let’s not be afraid to discuss our failures. Let’s be cautioned in discussing our achievements. Thank you. Herizal Hazri
Indonesia: What May 1998 Democratic Movement Has Resulted? By Margiyono Background May 1998 democratic movement in Indonesia that led by students had successfully pushed General Soeharto to step down. That movement grew so fast as supported by objective situation: economic crisis, international pressure and internal conflict of the regime. The students supported by urban poor, labors, middle class, and rural peasants cried for “reformasi,” Indonesian terms for reform. In addition, that crying was followed by a series of reforms resulted a liberal political reform, liberal economic reform, and liberal legal reforms. Today, 8 years and 5 months after the fall of Soeharto, Indonesia has been implementing a series democratic reform programs. First, Indonesia has made four times constitutional amendments, something that was taboo in the era of Soeharto’s dictatorship. The constitutional amendments have raised parliamentary heavy constitution, to alter presidential heavy one. Then, political reforms resulted multi parties electoral system to change three parties electoral system. Indonesia economic reforms has strengthen free-market, free-fight competition and international multinational corporation domination. Indonesia has opened its door widely to foreign investor, serves then with flexible labor market. Legal reform has born hundreds of new law, rising mixed legal system (the mixed of civil law, common law, Islamic law and custom law). The legal reforms has also produced new judiciary institutions, like Constitutional Court, Judicial Commission, Industrial Dispute Court, Corruption Busting Commission and Corruption Criminal Court, Commercial Court and Human Rights Tribunal. While governmental reforms has rise several quasi state commissions like Electoral Commission, Ombudsman Commission, Woman Protection Commissions, Child Protection Commissions, Police Commission, Prosecutor Commission, Procurement Commission, etc. Security sector reform has separated police with military, creating civilian police; as
well as gradually ending military business activities. How far a democratic reform makes effects? Constitutional Amendments: “A Gun without Bullet” Probably, one of the positive result of constitutional amendment is the forming of Constitutional Court. This court is a “negative legislator“(judicial review body) that has effectively protected constitutional right of the citizen whose right are neglected by law. This body is also has competency to impeach the president if the president break the constitution or customary law. Other excellent output of the amendment is the adoption of Universal Declaration of Human Rights into articles of the constitution. This makes the declaration become binding legal document in Indonesia. However, some ideal articles of the constitution are just like “a gun without bullet, “as many articles are not consistently implemented into lower regulations. There are still many laws, governmental regulations and other technical regulations that not in line for the spirit of the constitution. Beside that, there are still many old regulations that are unadjusted to the new constitution. (Today, there are about 3.000 Dutch Colonial regulations that are still binding in addition New Order’s regulations that are unchanged.) Human Rights Protection in Question Democratic reform has pushed Indonesia government to ratify some international human rights documents like Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and some ILO’s Convention. Indonesia also produces national human rights instruments like Law Number 36 in 1999 on Human Rights and Law Number 26 in 2000 on Human Rights Tribunal. The last one is adoption to the Rome Statute on International Criminal Court with several “mistranslation.” Indonesia set up Human Rights Tribunal in 2000 not because agree with Rome Statute on ICC, rather than to protect ratification of the statute and to protects Indonesian military officials who committed human rights violation in East Timor from
international human rights tribunal. The military officers, then brought to national human rights tribunal, but they were freed by appeal court. So do police officers who brought to human rights tribunal for committing human rights violation in Papua then freed too. The military officers who committed for human rights violation against Muslim community in Tanjung Priok, Jakarta, were also freed by appeal court. There is now tribunal for the massive killing against students during 1998 to 1999 in Tri Sakti University and two incidents in Semanggi (near parliament house). The parliament rejected to formation of human rights tribunal. (According to the law, retroactive application of Human Rights Tribunal Law must be resolved by the parliament). The investigation on the involuntary disappearance, May 1998 killing and other cases are unsuccessful. The terrible lack of capacity of National Human Rights Commission members and the minimum authority given the commission has made investigation of human rights violation going very slow like turtle. This situation is worsened by the fact that there are still many military officers and former bureaucrats that are still sitting as the members of the commission. Those people misled the direction of the commission. The commission activities are mostly seminars, workshops and other lucrative projects. Such activities make the commission become “toothless tiger.” The forming process of Truth and Reconciliation Commission is now idle on the hand of president. President does not yet assigned the prospective members selected by the parliament. The killing, terror, and pressure against human rights defenders still going on in many places. One of the dramatic cases is the killing of Munir, indicated by intelligent agent. Pollycarpus, the suspect Murder was freed by appeal court, even though he was sentenced for 14 years. Pres Law Number 40 in 1999 is still in danger, even though protects the freedom on expression. Journalist killing against Ersa Siregar happened in Aceh during martial law in 2003, involuntary disappearance against Eliyudin also happen in Nias Island in 20003. In addition, this year, a journalist in East Java named Herliyanto was killed, an
investigation is still going on. Physical attack against journalists also still happened. This year, some journalists are attacked in Papua during a clash between students against the police. Gangster attacked against Indo Pos last year. In 2004, a mass attack also happened against Tempo magazine. Legal suit also still challenges journalist. Beside tribunal against Bambang Harimurty, Ahmad Taufik and Tengku Iskandar Ali (they are from Tempo magazine), now a tribunal against Teguh Santosa of Rakyat Merdeka Online still going on. Tribunal and attack also still occurred against minority religious groups. Other division in Islam attacked Ahmadiyah groups (a minority Islam cult). Lia Aminuddin, the principle of Eden sect was attacked and then jailed by district court. Police attacked Mahdi sect in Sulawesi, cause one of its member and one police dead. Law protects even freedom of organization, but union busting is still a “normal” practice in companies. Some organizations, like Communist Party, are still banned too. The Rich Become Richer, the Poor Become Poorer Democratic reform in Indonesia has not yet result better economic distribution. National economic has not yet recovery, even Indonesia per capita income has reaches over US$1.000 this year and last month Indonesia as has paid all of its debt to IMF. However, unemployment rate is still increasing, reach 10 millions (10% of the productive age population) –added with half-unemployment the figure increases four times!) Indonesia’s main economic foundation is now natural resource, timber, and mining. Multinational companies dominate the exploitation of oil, gas and other mining. In addition, this effect to massive environmental destruction. The other main national income contributed by migrant workers. Migrant workers contributed second biggest income after oil. That why Indonesia government call Indonesia migrant workers as “devisa heroes” and sending migrant workers abroad become priority program, with minimum protection.
Simply, democratic reform in Indonesia just achieved minimum targets. There are only minor reforms that have been done, never building strong foundation for a real democratic society. Jakarta, October 2006 Outcome of Democratization Movement: Philippines Presented by Rowel Candelaria National Coordinator, Philippine Community Organizers’ Society (Much has been written about the civil society in the Philippines. We in the Philippine society collectively use as common reference materials those documents written by trailblazers in the movement, but there are some reference materials which I found suitable for this purpose. These are the research paper prepared by the Center for Alternative Development Initiative, and the documents of Black and White Movement.) History Cultural movements and civil society organizations (CSOs) have a long tradition in the Philippines. There was a free association of Filipinos before there was even a Philippine government. Years before the 1896 revolution that ended nearly 400 years of Spanish colonialism and produced the first democratic republic in Asia, there were cooperative societies and other forms of citizen associations engaging in a variety of culture-based initiatives. This tradition has manifested itself in different ways throughout the last century, and was especially important during crucial periods such as the 1896 and 1986 revolutions. CSOs are just beginning to realize the potential of cultural power in contradistinction to the political power held by the state and the economic power held by the private sector. Outcomes Since the 1986 revolution which ended 20 years of authoritarian rule under Ferdinand Marcos, the space for citizen participation has expanded greatly. This reclaiming of cultural space is due partly to civic initiative and vigilance, and partly to the government's sensitization to popular demand and pressure. The 1986 Constitution, which replaced martial law, has enshrined popular participation. The Local Government
Code of 1991 opened the door for greater involvement of CSOs in governance issues and concerns. The adoption of Philippine Agenda 21 (PA21) as the country’s blueprint for sustainable development in 1996 has further advanced the position of civil society as a key social actor. PA21, one of the most highly consultative policy documents in Philippine history, embraces a new, dynamic image of society where the key social actors are: civil society in the cultural realm, business in the economic realm and government in the political realm. The precise number of CSOs in the Philippines is difficult to ascertain, but the number of organizations is presumed to be large and increasing. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) estimates that there were about 58,000 non-stock, nonprofit organizations as of December, 1996, a dramatic increase from only about 18,000 in 1989, although not all may be considered as part of civil society. These figures cover only those organizations that made the effort to register with the SEC, and they are only a fraction of a much larger movement. Civil society includes self-help groups; neighborhood associations and community organizations; religious and spiritual societies; professional associations; business foundations; local philanthropies; private voluntary organizations (PVOs) and NGOs; and a wide variety of organizations of workers, farmers, fishers, indigenous people, urban poor, elderly citizens, disabled people, media workers, religious and church people, men, women, young people, children, and students. The scope of cultural initiative covers a broad range of activities concerning human welfare and development. The traditional practice of bayanihan (mutual exchange) still persists in rural villages and some migrant communities in cities despite the pervasive influence of the cash economy. The majority of CSOs are involved in helping their membership, enhancing the sense of community, extending gifts and services to others, education and training, advocating the public interest, facilitating the process of gaining clarity/coherence of values or to promoting common professional or spiritual enhancement. Initiative organizations such as development CSOs and people's organizations are on the cutting edge of social change processes as they engage in activities that impact directly on the larger society. They usually band together into larger social coalitions and movements to leverage their influence on public policy and government practice. One of the largest of these networks in the Philippines has over 3000 member
organizations and sub-networks. Their world in educating, organizing, and mobilizing the public around the issues of human rights, equality, social and economic justice, and environmental protection have made possible some of the most dramatic events in Philippine history. Their actions do not always seem “civil,” but they are certainly high in spirit, motivation, and initiative. Initiative CSOs can compel government to make a change as in the case of revising government positions in trade negotiations or, if necessary, even help bring down unaccountable governments as in the 1986 revolution. They are the alternative voice in Philippine society given the perceived closeness of government and business interests. Current Situation and Challenges The current political situation in the country, which has undergone two people's uprisings leading to the fall of two presidents (within 15 years) and that of another one – in just four years – unfolding, has created both disgust and frustration among many Filipinos Needless to say, the present situation has also opened debates and forums over what is now appearing to be the most singular question: Is it a matter of replacing a president who has lost all credibility or is it already a matter of replacing a failed system? In this regard, there are at least four major options developing assuming that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is forced to resign or is ousted by another political uprising: first, constitutional succession; second, a snap presidential election; third, military junta; and fourth, a transition or coalition government. Now that the 2nd Impeachment has, in large part, been relegated to the background of our political landscape, our attention returns to the bogus People's Initiative of Gloria (PIG) and Charter Change. Allow me to use this opportunity to explain the reasons why we say STOP (Sa Tamang Paraan, Sa Tamang Oras – “In the right way at the right time) Cha Cha (Charter Change):
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wants to ensure her hold on power and block all efforts to hold her accountable for alleged lying, cheating and stealing especially since her lackeys don't look like winners should there be elections next year.
• • • • •
There is no enabling law. The change from presidential to parliamentary, bicameral to unicameral are revisions, not amendments, to our Constitution. Should Cha Cha prevail, there will be no need for 2007 elections and the interim Parliament can extend terms for all elected officials beyond 2010. We will lose our right to vote directly for our President. We will be allowing the corrupt politicians to dictate our nation's directions. To where, pray tell? The abolition of the Senate will remove the checks and balance necessary for good governance. We will be loosening the control on the directions of national change instead of strengthening it. We will be opening the door to even more graft and corruption. Do you really want a rubber stamp government? Who will act as fiscalizer? Fusing the Executive and Legislative powers will allow for the same people to choose and promote programs of government without question. The entire national budget, except maybe for fixed expenditures (salaries and debt servicing) will be pork barrel. The bulk of Representatives in this 13th Congress has shown itself to be terribly loyal to the sitting president. In gratitude to her largesse, they will continue to turn a blind eye to the real needs of our people and allow her and her family to go on raping and pillaging.
To say Yes to Cha Cha means to say yes to Gloria Forever. Given the breath-taking pace by which political killings have been happening in the Philippines today, the civil society is collectively facing this very critical challenge today.
People’s Media and Democratic Movement in Asia Ubonrat Siriyuvasak, Ph.D firstname.lastname@example.org
“The censored media had failed to report the killings. Instead, false reports of vandalism and minor police actions were the news that they fabricated. The brutality of the army was not mentioned. After the night's news again failed to report the situation, thousands of people surrounded the MBC media building. Soon the management of the station and the soldiers guarding it retreated, and the crowd surged inside. Unable to get the broadcast facility working, people torched the building.” The May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising
For decades state media are adverse to the people and their democratic movement. What happened to the MBC media building in Gwangju in 1980 was similar to the burning of Radio Thailand and the Public Relations Department building during the student up-rising in Thailand in 1973. People were outraged by the
distortions and lie broadcasted by government control media. But in the Philippines during EDSA 1 or the people power movement to oust President Marcos in 1986 demonstrators and rebel troops seized Channel 4, the government owned television station, and turned it into a ‘People’s Channel’. The history of state media, or so-called public media, in Asia is one that serves un-democratic government or military regime. Despite the fact that these media are funded by tax money they profess little public accountability. On the other hand, mainstream commercial media are huge profit seeking conglomerates that care for their own interests while disregarding their role as key institution in a democratic society.
Obviously, both types of media are un-friendly to the democratic movement that struggle for freedom, justice and peace.
Media democratization activism Since a large part of the mainstream media, along with state media, have turned against the people in times of political crisis the people must find their own means of communication to fight back. Bred by past tragic experiences and a democratic spirit labor and civic movements, independent artists and communicators, for instance, seek new forms of communication media. This is to ensure that they would have a voice of their own. These new communication networks are mostly small, independent, noncommercial and non-profit. People’s media in a more specific context may have
embraced media activism, radicalism, underground or alternative media activities involving numerous innovative channels of communication, creative and subversive content which Downing termed “radical media” (2001). They are armed with a clear social and political agenda to communicate with their constituents and, to a large extent, to mobilize the masses or the public into action. The purpose of these self-made alternative media, or what Rodriquez called “citizens’ media”, is to empower citizens and communities.
“Citizens’ media is a concept that accounts for the processes of empowerment, conscientization, and fragmentation of power that result when men, women, and youth gain access to and re-claim their own media. As they use media to re-constitute their own cultural codes to name the world in their own terms, citizens’ media participants disrupt power relationships, exercise their own agency, and re-constitute their own lives, futures, and cultures”
The key to people’s media is the struggle for the right to speak, to gain freedom of association, idea and expression, to resist and criticize, to oppose state terror, injustice and oppression, to be heard and understood by the public and the state. In practice, however, democratic movement, civil society and citizen groups, have developed different approaches to articulate their voices inside and outside the confine of the structure of the public communication media. Hackett (2000: 70-71) distinguished four major strands of praxis in the scheme of media democratization activism as followed: 1. Influencing content and practices of mainstream media—e.g., finding openings for oppositional voices, media monitoring and campaign to change specific aspects of representations. 2. Advocating for reform of government policy/regulation of media in order to change the very structure of media institutions—e.g., media reform coalitions. 3. Building independent, democratic and participatory media—alternative media and support services to give voice to the marginalized, thereby opening new channels of communication independent of state and corporate controls. 4. Changing the relationship between audiences and media, chiefly by empowering audiences to be more critical of hegemonic media—e.g., media education and culture jamming.
We will discuss some of these praxis in the following section.
People’s media in Asian democratic struggle Democratic movements in the 1970s-1980s in Asia have found their independent voices in the print media. Although some died of political death and others could not over come economic onslaught in the market place of the media industry, those who fought and survived the military regimes such as The Nation (Thailand), The Philippines Daily Inquirer (Philippines), Hankyoreh (South Korea), and Tempo (Indonesia), were able to pioneer progressive news reporting. They employ
investigative journalism to expose government wrongdoings and corruptions. Publishing in innovative style, and digging into deep and substantial information these voices have introduced a new kind of journalism to Asian public media. This new generation of newspapers has diligently helped to advance the hard won fruit of democratic ideals. But at the turn of the 21st century democratic movement and media technology are converging from below. The proliferation of the internet for instance has enabled a new mode of direct access and interactive exchanges, and online reporting in multiple forms. Virtual communities beyond national boundaries are reached at the touch of a button. There are formal styles of online reporting by trained journalist such as
Malaysiakini (Malaysia), Mindanews (Philippines), Prachatai (Thailand) or citizens’ reporting by advocates and volunteers such as the open space in OhmyNews online (South Korea), and a variety of weblogs that come in diverse genres and content. The internet is rapidly changing the existing mediascape and the democratic movements are
quick to harness the pro-democratic characters of the internet. In addition, community radio has been a highly popular medium in recent years throughout a large part of Asia. This is an inexpensive communication tool for the peasantry, workers, women and children, and the uneducated masses to participate at the local level. Its many faceted roles on local politics and governance, on creating and maintaining cultural identities show how independent and participatory media can give voice to the socially marginalized peoples. Take Angkringan Radio for example
(located in Timbulharjo village, Bantul district, Yogyakarta). It was set up in 2000 by a group of young activists to monitor the local administration. Angkringan Radio
broadcast several village meetings, which become the key informative process that creates a new mode of check and balance for villagers. In this way, villagers become informed citizens and the traditional silence and fear of the power of the village head or Lurah have been lifted (Ubonrat Siriyuvasak, 2005). The advantage of a community medium for democratic change is exemplary of how independent and participatory media can empower and give voice to the vast majority of people who are often marginalized.
Towards structural transformation of public voices Looking to the future from the perspective of the democratic movement. The hard struggle will concentrate in at least two areas; against either an oppressive or a neo-liberal state, on the one hand, and the consumerist society under the control of global capitalism, on the other hand. In this kind of context in Asia the small, and independent people’s media will be a significant force to achieve a democratic society.
My argument is based on the fact that there is a deep entrenchment of corporate voices and corporate control over the media industry. Even the ‘progressive press’ of the previous generation have grown into big corporations and become part of the mainstream media industry. We can no longer bank our hopes and ideals with these waning lights. As Schiller foresaw, nearly two decades ago, that ‘corporate expression has taken over public expression’ (1989). Thus, democratic movements in Asia must organize their own kind of communicative media and build up networks of networks from below, within and beyond national borders. So far, some of the examples discussed above direct us to a new formation of a vibrant and emerging generation of people’s media at the local level as well as at the national level and beyond. These are seemingly more democratic in their technological features and socio-political arrangements. People’s media are open to direct access and participation in many forms. They are owned and operated by the people themselves. They inform and empower, and make conscientious citizens out of its transformative communication process. As opposed to the previous generation of print media the internet and community radio, for instance, have transformed the readers and listeners/viewers into communicators and authors. There is a role reversal, which changes the relationship between audiences and media. This will pose as the real challenge to the media industry and state media. It will inevitably bring about structural transformation of communication and a new balance in the flow and quality of public voices. More importantly, the new media will involve groups and movements in Asia and her sub-regions, and solidify with their international connections. This will extend the people’s media networks to communities and societies in a scale unimaginable in our previous democratic struggles. The beacon for our democratic future will be
embedded in the long road to ‘democratic media, and democratic peoples’.
Freedom From Fear Change some time made shock. If we not ready, change will made we go down. When I was begn as a Journalist at 1986, we normally life received unclear information. At press, when published at the time, especially about politics and power very minimum publishing. At was the time, “Java King” Suharto in power. Since he was in power, when I was just birth from my mom, Suharto begin banned some media who not support his power, military or his political machine, Golkar. Press at was the time, more wrote behind the line, and tend to be wrote behing the lies. Many events, facts or scandal not blow up at media (unpublished). Labour strike, students demonstration or farmers protest, who his land occupied without justice, not published in mass media. Some time media who publishing must stop (banned), if power unlike with that news. At 1994, media when I worked, Tempo Weekly Magazine closed by government. Because publishing scandal president, minister of Technology, military officer, bussinessme who close with Suharto for buying 39 ex East Germany warships for German. Pressure to media, especially journalists at the moment come from every where. From power, military who threat journalists, and streetman or mafia groups who pay by some one. One Journalists association at was the time, PWI, also pressure mass media company and journalists. About, publishing license, media company to be a victim black mail. And “idealis” journalist on exiled and restricted his action. Because pressure come from every where, our country ever some body call “Republic of Fear”, every boby fear to talk, press also fear. Every body who protest or anti government imprisoned, killed or dissappeared. And me one of journalist in jail for three years (1995-1997), because, “showing hatred againts government.” May be I’m still lucky, because any journalist who killed, or missing untill now. Indonesian Sociologist Arief Budiman, described about the fear.
Our press does indeed live in fear : fear of the government and fear of the public’s views. The first impedes growth of democracy while th second has the opposite effect. This fear of the government is caused by the fact that our press has changed from being a “fighting press” into a “Business-oriented press”. At present our press puts the priority on selling information in the market rather than on disseminating information tha is true (but raises the isk of conflict with the powers that be) or sides with the weak. We could indeed feet very grateful if we had a media that, although it placed its priority on business, sill managed to pay attention to “the struggle.” This situation is made worse by the fact that democracy in this country is still very weak. The government remains strong while the societal institutions (political parties, mass organiozations and also the press) bear little significance. Thus, press publication that would have preverred to fight, have to think twie before pursuing their mission. As aconsequence, the bigger they grow (in the sese of business success achieved) the more careful (read : afraid) they become in confronting the power of government. Unfortunately, capitalism has made its inroads everywhere, including among the press. The fear of the public’s view is caused by the fact that the banning of media publications is usually based on principles of power rather than justice. Muzzling of pornographic media publication usually cause little fuss among the public. What does raise much furor are political muzzlings that are based on protecting the interests of the powers that be. Therefore, even thought they are in support of the government, press publication that support the bans have difficulties in expressing their views openly. Thus, it is not surprising that obervers outside the media are in support and which ones oppose the government’s action. The reason, again, because our press lives in fear. Untill now, the fear no more lost, even though, Suharto, not in power any more. For example, our humanrights activis, Munir, killed by arsenic (poison) when in flight (with government flag airlines) to Nederland for study in Law. Untill now, our government not seriously to find the killers, because, military intelegent involved. The last, Suharto, now not in power any more, because students pressure, people, press and also economic crissis. But, the problems still fac on face. Corruptions still worse. And crimes agains humanity never responsible at the court. And Suharto never told appologize to people, and his money from corrupt when in power, untouchable. Because after Suharto step a side, his change his patronages. Fortunately for media company, because now not license publication any more. It’s mead government not involved his hand directly to pressure or banned the media.
Pressure come undirectly, for example streetman come to media office to made teror. But on “free” time, also still have, journalists killed because his wrote. Much, in the region, out side capital. Treasure of Suharto era, all nine TV stations, who have license, befor Suharto step a side, that’s all from his families, closed friend or patronages. Not, independent TV station. Radio and print media, where still independent, also not more, you cant count with your fingers. Journalists and idealist people only victim of change. Why journalists or media should to role the development? Former World Bank President, James D. Wolfensohn, wrote "More than 1.2 billion inhabitants of this world live on less than one dollar a day. And many ofthese poor do not just suffer from a lack of food and clothing, but also have no voice in making thedecisions that concern their lives. Add to this the corruption and weak governance that erode the effectiveness of the assistance of other countries. There has certainly been progress in this area, but development is a complex issue that covers various activities in various areas. A major prerequisite in developing an effective development strategy is the transmission of knowledge and empowered transparency. To reduce poverty, we must free up access to information and improve the quality of that information. People who have better information are more able to make better choices. For these reasons I have long had the opinion that press freedom is not a luxury. This is the essence of just development. The media can expose corruption. The press supervises public policy through highlighting government policy. The media enables many people to give voice to their diverse opinions on governance and reformation, and helps to create a consensus for bringing about change. A press such as this assists the performance of the market to become healthier, from small-scale trading in vegetables in Indonesia through to global trading in foreign exchange and the capital markets of London and New York. The press can facilitate trade, and channel ideas and innovations across national boundaries. We have also seen that the media plays an important role in human development, in disseminating information on education and health to isolated villages from Uganda to Nicaragua. Criminalization of Journalists
It is the acknowledgement of the importance of press freedoms for the benefit of the nation that hascaused the widespread tendency for the decriminalization of legal penalties for freedom of opinion, _expression, and press freedom. The United States has already practiced this since 1964 (through a decision of the US Supreme Court in the case of "the New York Times vs. Sullivan), whereas European countries were initially diverse, but since the formation of the European Human Rights Court, inpractical terms, the criminalization of press articles no longer applies in European Union countries. In Japan the decriminalization of press articles has been in effect for decades and, according to Professor Masao Horibe, senior lecturer in the Law Faculty at Chuo University in Tokyo, the largest claim ever awarded by the Supreme Court in Japan against the press was only valued at five million yen (around Rp 550 million.) See "Law Colloquium 2004: From Insult to Slanders,Defamation and the Freedom of the Press", published by the Literacy Foundation) The tendency to decriminalize journalistic works and to limit to the value of civil claims has not only occurred in advanced countries. Ghana and Ukraine did this in 2001 and Sri Lanka in 2002. Even Timor Leste, which still uses the Indonesian law produced until 1999, through UNTAET decree no 2/2000 has withdrawn all articles containing criminal penalties affecting the freedom of opinion,expression, and press freedom. Possibly we are naive, but we honestly feel that we can play a role in helping to overcome this nation's nervousness about practicing democracy. As journalists, whose task from day to day is to convey information to the public, we feel challenged to play a participatory role in supplying the public with information that is relevant, credible and timely. We believe the public's capacity to make decisions and the quality of those decisions is dependent on the information that they obtain before these decisions are taken. If the people cannot get the necessary information, it is likely their decisions will not be the right ones. If mistakes in taking decisions often occur, then the self-confidence of the man in the street concerning his capacity to play a participatory role in the democratic process will continue to slide so it is not impossible that this might at one point completely vanish. If that happens, the democratic fatigue syndrome will then surface.
The longing for a strong and authoritarian governance would then grow among the simple folk slumped in hopelessness, and this nation would then be again trapped in the grip of another authoritarian regime that, if we refer to history, would end up in national decline. This happened to the German nation ahead of its election of Hitler as the top leader of that country. It also happened in Italy and led to the dictator Mussolini assuming control and developing a fascist governance. We all know that these two leaders took their nations to the brink of extinction. We of course do not want that to happen to the Indonesia nation also in our region, Asia. Jakarta, 20 Oct, 2006 Ahmad Taufik Journalist, paper for Gwangju Forum “Democratization Movement in Asian Region and Mass Media".
Million Votes For “None-of-the-Above”----An approach of demoracy Zita Jeng Information Center Education
Political Background Of Taiwan The Democratic Progressive Party, DPP, was formed in 1978 as an underground opposition party to the single party rule of the Kou-Min-Tang party, KMT, founded in 1911. After the martial law was lifted in 1988, the DPP was able to register as a legal political entity. It won a minority representation in the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s law making body in the first local elections in 1992. It steadily won an increasingly large minority in the Legislative Yuan . Finally in 2000 the first peaceful transition of power was achieved between rival political parties with the accession of Chen-Sui-Bian to the presidency. Four years later, as the DPP candidate and the chairman of the DPP, Chen won the president election and continued in office. Politics in Taiwan nowadays can be complex. In brief, there are the pan-Blues, which is led by the former single ruling party KMT. The KMT also has the most number of seats in the
legislature. Besides, the People First Party and the New Party split off the KMT when it was led by the former President Lee-Teng-Hui. Then there are the pan-Greens, which includes the governing DPP( former opposite party) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union. The TSU, which is a radical pro-independent party compared to the DPP, was set up by Lee-Teng-Hui after he left the KMT in 2000 when Chen was elected president.
The political strategy design of ICLE in current Taiwan Politicis --- Million Votes For “None-of-the-Above” In facing the presidential election in 2004, the ruling class in Taiwan has always decided which way they will go. But which direction should the underprivileged people take? Both the Green and the Blue candidates claimed that the election is a battle for our identity, and that was really what it was all about. The people could only choose between the options of the Green or the Blue. Choosing the Green meant taking risk for establishing an independent Taiwan through scribing a new constitution and a referendum for a new name for the nation which is claimed to be progressive. On the other hand, the Blue represented an ultimate unification with China. Reformation will be accomplished through revising the Constitution, and maintaining the status between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait supposes to bring peace and prosperity. The question is: Is this the democracy we want? We are more eager to know who will give our young people a future to dream of? Who will solve unemployment? Who will pay our pensions? Who will abridge the poverty gap? None of the Blue or the Green had sayings on these matters in the 2004 presidential election. Even though the Green and the Blue have different positions, and often fought fiercely against each other on the question of our national identity, they are much of the same in taking all necessary measures to minimize the role of the state in the socioeconomic field. In the past, they have caused a serious shortcoming in our national revenue by moving hand in hand to press for a serious tax cut measures, including the abolishment of stock trading tax, the reduction of estate duty, land tax and sales tax. Besides, they have cooperated to pass some new laws to subside business giants for their upgrading project, to encourage foreign investment, to liberalize the harbor service,. Finally, they are in a race to celebrate the entry of Taiwan into WTO, and they race each other for the speed of pressing for privatization. The one hundred plus conclusions made by the so-called Economic “Development” Conference, held three
years ago, were the witness to the fact that both the Green and the Blue are highly consensus on lining up with the capitalists. Taiwan has the highest threshold for any one who wants to become a qualified candidate and for any elected public office holder to be recalled. So far the Blue and the Green have taken no steps to lower the threshold for the underprivileged so as to encourage their political participation – effective measures, for example, to conquer the difficulties concerning the signature collection, high campaign deposits and election budget, low media exposition, the right of absentee votes for the workers, let along the progressive “none-of-the-above” system advocated in many other countries. We urged those voters who are disappointed with both the Green and the Blue do not be disappointed with themselves. Please do not stay at home for protest in the election day. For we can always empower ourselves by casting invalid votes. We can vote “none of the above” for president to denounce both the Green and the Blue, and decide the public issues according to our will in referendum. Then we can say this is a referendum for the people, and there is sovereignty for the people.
By Pravit Rojanaphruk senior reporter, The Nation The Thai print media is now at a major crossroad following the September 19 coup d' etat which overthrown a corrupt, abusive, yet democratically elected Thaksin Shinawatra Administion. Foreign governments and media have been caught off guard by the general supports given to the coup makers by Thai print media, long regarded as a force for democratisation of Thai society. It's wellknown that majority of the middle class and old elites oppose Thaksin's growing subversion of the rule of law. His crimes and alleged crimes ranges from selling sensitive assets of his family, which have won national concessions, to Singaporean government's investment arm; his brutal extrajudicial killing over the government's war on drug, the used of excessive force in southern Thailand to quell separatist movement, numerous alleged corruptions, nepotism, unexplained death of a dozen human rights defenders and more.
Thai middle class have been gathering in tens of thousands to call for Thaksin resignation, since the beginning of 2006, so when the coup really took place they were rather glad. And the Thai print media were generally supportive of the coup as well despite the fact that Thaksin is still hugely popular amongst rural and urban poor through many of his so-called populist policy such as cheap health care, easy access to loan, housing and more. In a country where some 60 per cent of Thais are still considered as being working class, the Thai print media stance in supporting the coup is tantamount to the denial of the voice of majority of the people, not to mention that it's also a very short-sighted and quick-fix way of problem solving - with Thaksin being the problem, that is. It's problematic because giving supports to violent and unlawful regime change would only encourage more coup makers in the future and will likely create more problems as now Thailand has a military-junta appointed administration not accountable to any elected representatives of the people. Newspapers generally say the coup is an acceptable "necessary evil" or even essentially good for the future of Thai democracy, however. In fact the Thai word for coup d' etat, or "rat praharn" can be translated as "killing of the state" and is no different of the extrajudicial killing the print media often criticise Thaksin for. The print media also help created the myth that majority of Thai people supported the coup while they did very little to interview rural and poor people about what they truly feel. To defend the coup as part of a "Thai-style democracy" is no different to submitting the society to a renewed notion of "Asian values" previously propagated by dictators like Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. The notion of "Thai-style democracy" also disregard human's ability to adapt aspects of democratic culture that is beneficial to majority of the people. Equally important and telling about the print media's general supports for the coup is that they actually didn't care about the view and feelings of majority of Thai people. Representatives of three major media associations even gladly accepted the invitation of the junta to join the puppet National Lergislative Assembly, claiming they are joining the assembly to make sure press freedom is protected. But how can press freedom be protected when the junta itself instructed all the media to report "constructively" since Septembr 19, shut down some anti-coup websites along with community radio and dispatched soldiers to secure television offices? The print media's support for the coup makes it more than clear that the print media are more representative of the middle class and elites than the poor who are majority of the populace. This is a very crucial issue for the role of Thai print media and the future of
Thai democracy as newspapers cannot claim to anylonger be a force for democracy if they can only represent the middle class and elite who often look down upon the masses and are themselves anti-democratic. The print media may have a role to play in democratising Thailand during the 1970s and in May 1992 when they oppose military rule and in effect enabled to middle class to enjoy the sweet taste of rights and liberty. But if access to rights and liberty are to stop at the middle class, and if the print media continue habour extreme pro-urban middle class view, then Thailand will continue to become a country divided in opportunity and equality and the print media may risk itself becoming an anti-democratic force or at least a reflection of an interest of certain upper classes in Thai society. No media can claim to represent the public when it ignore the view and suffering of majority of its people. Their increasing contempt of the view of majority of the people is more reflective of patronage society where richer and better educated people feel the have a Confucious right to decide for the rest on what is essentially good for the society. Many people who works for the print media feel majority of Thai people are not educated or mature enough to make sound political decision through ballot boxes - that's why the poor continued to vote for Thaksin despite Thaksin's growing abuse and corruption allegations. But how can a society be democratic when views of majority of the people are simply discarded, ignored and even looked down? Thus it's no surpise that over the past few years a handful of internet-based newspapers have been found by NGOs to try to correct this imbalance, with relative success. But it will take more than that. The print media cannot close its eyes to the rest of the society if it wants to remain relevant and be a true force for democratisation. They now will have to choose to either shed their social-class bias and learn to understand that there can be no democracy if majority of Thais do not enjoy equal rights and liberty and have equal access to political participation. Or they can continue trying to think for the rest of the society and risk greater social conflicts that would make Thailand a country deep in political and social conflicts.
Media Democratization reached deadlock: Running from Tigers Facing with the Crocodiles and Vice versa Part 1 : Running from Tigers In the past 30 years, intellectuals and people in the field of mass media have called for the freedom of radio and television media against the control and domination of the state and capitalism. However, the official media reformation only began in recent years. It seems only to be fighting on the discourse of media reform rather than leading to a real policy shift. In addition, such reform couldn’t catch up the time which continuously brought new and bigger problems. From the past until the present, radio and television media have been criticized as a tool used for tempting, creating an illusion, stimulating consumption, and not as the responsible and informative media it should be. According to its raison d’etre, mass communication should function as the web of human society which helps to reduce the social gab and create an understanding between the various groups in society. Broadcast media commenced in the authoritative period (radio in 1930, television in 1955), following the time of demand for social rights, freedom, and democracy (19731979). Despite being used mainly by the state as a tool to direct people’s thoughts, broadcast media was changed during a détente period where there was a growth in the overall communication business (1979-1992). Apart from the overall economic growth, another factor exclusively affecting the adaptation of radio was the growth of the Thai music recording business since 1979. It could be said that since the late of 1970’s radio media gradually shifted its role from being a political tool of the authoritarian/conservative clique, to being a part of capitalism. Until now, radio and television station networks were owned by the Army (more than 200 radio stations, 2 TV stations) and other government agencies (200 radio
stations. 5 TV stations ), propagating for the state as well as commercial advertising to expand the economy and industry. Generally, instead of motivating a political participation, the mass media maintained a consistent and political sluggishness as well as existing as one of the mechanisms of commercial capital. Nevertheless, the demand for the state to stop dominating and using media for political propaganda took place along with the development of the fight for people’s rights and freedom since 14 October 1973 and 6 October 1976. The Black May of 1992 was considered as a key turning point that made the state’s media reformation more prevalent. Obstructed from real information by the state, people united together as a force to drive out government by military dictatorship. After that incident ended, on 28 May 1992, a large discussing forum entitled “The Crisis of Mass Communication” was convened by the mass communication academic institutions and there were recommendatios;1) the ownership of media must be reformed, e.g. take some areas of the media back from the army or the government Public Relations Department; 2) a law should be enacted to acknowledge the people’s fundamental right to receive truthful information from the media and; 3) an independent organization should be established to handle matters relating to media communication. Following this period of political crisis the trend for media liberalization (1992-1997) increased as a result of the struggle for democracy in May 1992. This trend reflected the political power of the middle class who believed that media liberalization is the essential foundation for the development of democracy and posed a direct threat to the dictatorship. As a result, the middle class took this opportunity to explicitly express that their rights and the freedom of information were the basis for the development of their economic, political and social power. The major concrete result of the demand for an independent media was the emergence of a new and the first private television station. Its intention was to have a managerial structure free from political influence and was the
background of the ITV television station or, as earlier named, Independent Television. Today there is no trace of such intention. Moreover, the suggestions on the concept of reforming all the government’s media were developed into the will of the Members of Parliament in drafting the Constitution. Articles 39, 40 and 41 of the Constitution include the guarantee of the rights and freedom of mass media for the people, as well as the principle of returning radio, television and telecommunications frequencies to be national resources, used for national and local public interest, within the concept of fair and free competition. It could be said that after promulgating the present Constitution in October 1997, broadcast media was forced into a period of media and political reform (1997-2001). This period was considered as a political honeymoon because democracy in Thailand had reached its peak again after the 14 October 1973 incident. Additionally, the principle of the public’s mass media rights, as provided by Article 40 of the Constitution, had awakened people throughout the country to pursue and push forward media reform, which was in accordance with the concept of political reform, the establishment of a participatory democracy, and the government decentralization, etc. One of sucessful out come from 1997 Constitution is the emergence of community radio in Thailan. But the structural reform of Broadcast media is still not much progressed. Part 2: Facing with the Crocodiles If we look globally, there are very few companies that manage and monopolize telecommunication, entertainment, information, movie, computing and on-line business. The consolidation of AOL-Time-Warner is the classic case of merging business as ‘the largest media company in the world is the standard bearer of synergy and vertical integration in the modern digital age. As for Thailand, which is now facing the wave of globalisation and capitalism ideology, people are experiencing the import of
monopolisation model. However, its society is struggling to break free from cronyism authoritarian or monopoly oligarchs system that has no good governance principle into more democratic system. That put Thailand between a rock and a hard place. Despite we had reached the democratic society in form and have a people constitution that had received the highest participation rate in the history, currently Thai society had faced the crisis of democratic regression and a serious violation of the constitution. The reason was the consolidation and growth of domestic political business cliques, particularly the telecommunication capitals that monopolise the business which generate huge benefit for their units. These capitals had evolved to become a legitimate government that could shape policy that can facilitate or support businesses of owners’ families. The most obvious case is the former Prime Minister of the kingdom of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra. He found Shin Corporation, the country’s biggest telecom-plus-media firm which has completely become a political corporation since he got involved in politic as a nation’s leader.
Conclusively, we can say that Shin Corp, a business more than 20 years formerly owned by the prime minister’s family and now owned by Singaporean holdings, has expanded and dominated Thailand’s ICTs industry totally. Information presented in
www.shincorp.com shows that Shin Corp owns 24 companies that run all aspects of
telecommunication, media, computer, satellite, ICTs etc. We can break down Shin Corp’s businesses that influence the public’s rights in public resources and access to information.
In early 2006, Shin Corporation was sold to Temasek Holding of Singapore for $7.3 billion and it has dramatically changed Thai politic into crisis of morality, civil liberty and democracy until now.
The phenomenon of ShinCorp-Temasek deal had brought a crucial burning issue for the political crisis in Thailand. There were a critical mass rallying against prime minister asking him to resign and take responsibility for those accused policy-corruption and conflict of interest over the business deal with ShinCorp and Temasek. The demonstrators were upset not only because Mr.Thaksin –legally-paid no tax on his gains, but also because a foreign company would now have a significant stake in Thai telecom infrastructure, national satellites and national television. The majority of
Thai citizen are still mired in poverty and deprived of basic rights in communication, either access to information, technology and freedom of expression. Furthermore, they also are not provided with universal telecommunication services. For example, people
have to pay an expensive price for telecommunication services and lacking alternatives. The most important issue is there is lower-than-should-be level of utilising telecommunication resources for public services in education, healthcare, culture, social and democratic development.
Regarding the monopoly and concentration of communication infrastructure, it has been under more threats particularly when ShinCorp transformed itself from political corporation in to transnational-political firm, Temasek, as which is the biggest tycoon who could operate business of telecomm, information and communication technology around the region and even Asia-Pacific. Singapore is successful in term of economic development but in term of democracy and freedom of expression, absolutely not a right model to follow.
When tycoon is state, those state policies would be in favour of the cronies of tycoons, inevitably. Therefore, ShinCorp, either run by Shinnawatra’s family or Temasek, could possibly enjoy a secure position from their close relationship with political establishments, which at the same time direct Thailand’s foreign media and ICTs policy.
Part 3 (Turning back to Tiger while still facing the Crocodiles) After several months of political turmoil in 2006 between Pro-Thaksin VS AntiThaksin. Eventually, coup d’etat did happen again in Thailand on 19 September 2006. It has resulted; 1. 1997 Constitution was annulled. (It was called People’s Constitution) 2. Military coup declares Martial Law 3. Military ordered to shut down community radio in Northern and NorthEastern provinces which targeted as pro-Thaksin groups 4. ICT Ministry declared to shut down political websites whose opposing military coup and being lese majeste. Two outstanding websites (www.19Sept.org, www.midnightuniv.org) were shut down without
responsibility from any authority. 5. Head of Press Council, Thai Journalists Asoociation (TJA)and Thai Broadcast Journalists Association were appointted to be National Legislative Assembly (NLA) undrer the military regime. As well as prominets academics and activists. They are opposed by the public but denying to withdraw. 6. Conflict of thoughts and standpoints among civil socirty, intellectuals, activists, community and public against the coup are highly devided. There is a climate of fear and favor. After we had tried to democratize ourselves from strong authoritarian regime
(Tigers), we unfortnately faced with new global capitalist (Crocodiles). Now, even worse that we turns back to face closely with Tigers again. While the Crocodiles are still grown up though. So far, while most of people in Thailand belives that Tigers would beat the Crocodile for the sake of our nation. I prefer to think otherwise. Therefore, without a choice, we have to continue fighting against both powerful Tigers and Crocodiles with nothing in our hands beside Truth, Freedom and Civil liberty. Note Temasek: Crown Prince's private secretary has been invited to join the board. Temasek Holdings of Singapore plans to shore up the image of Shin Corp by removing chairman Pong Sarasin, while CEO Boonklee Plangsiri may also lose his job in a management reshuffle, industry sources said yesterday. Temasek has invited MR Tongnoi Tongyai, the private secretary of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, to join the board of Shin Corp and in due time he would replace Pong. However, Temasek came out to deny a news report that it was unhappy with Pong's performance, or that it was going to shake up Shin's board. This follows allegations that the Singaporean government's investment arm had relied on nominees in violation of the Foreign Business Act in its takeover of Shin. (The Nation 21 October 2006)
Democratic crisis in Asia Kim, Dong-Choon SungKongHoe University, Standing Commissioner of Truth and Reconciliation Commission, ROK
Democratization in Asian countries, which has brought down military dictatorships and led to the demonstration of the "people's power" from the 1980s to the mid-1990s, is under crisis today. Though it has succeeded to some extent in doing away with military dictatorships, coups are no longer something of the past, as can be seen in recent developments: the recent military coup in Thailand; the crisis in East Timor that threatens the very existence of the nation; the attempts for a military coup in the Philippines and the declaration of a state of national emergency by the Arroyo government; the demands for the Taiwan President Chen Shui-ban to step down; and the impeachment attempt against the Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and the following political crisis. Regarding the coup in Thailand, the speaker of the opposition party, which is the successor of military dictatorships in Korea, remarked, "We need to learn a lesson from the coup in Thailand". High expectations citizens of these countries had towards democratization are becoming disillusions. There are even signs of these nations returning back to a new form of authoritarianism, although it might not be as extreme as reactionism or fascism. In addition, we are witnessing outdated political instabilities in Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar, such as an oppressive government, clear infringements of laws and regulations, as well as massacres. In these countries, the power of democratic movements is weak, while that of the rulers, such as military authorities or capital, is extremely strong. Then what is the root-cause for nations, which have walked on the path towards civilian control and democratization, being under crisis? The primary reason can be said to be the far-from-thorough democratization process as well as the incompetence of civilian governments. In the case of the Philippines, even after political democratization, citizens failed to become leaders in making political decisions. In fact, democratization was limited to a simple alternation among ruling elites. As a result, discontent among the public could not be contained, which in turn led to endless political instabilities. In Thailand and Taiwan, civilian leaders are suffering from various corruption scandals, thereby causing great harm to the political legitimacy of democratic governments. In Indonesia, based on continued assistance from the U.S., military forces still have a strong grasp on economic power, and are blocking the nation from strongly establishing democracy and shaking off the past. In the case of Korea, economic powers and long-rooted powers of local societies are still in the hands of elite rulers of the past. Against this backdrop, the lack of experience in politics of the democratic government has put the government under crisis.
The second cause is that the international environment, that can be summarized as neoliberalism and the military hegemonism of the U.S., is having a negative impact on the democracy of Asian nations. Under the pretext of waging war against terrorism, the U.S. Bush administration is attacking Iraq, just standing by while Israel attacks Lebanon, and creating an atmosphere of militarism and new threats of war in the Asian region, with the North Korean nuclear threat as an excuse. The rise in tension in Northeast Asia before and after the North Korean nuclear test as well as the sudden rise of nationalism in China and Japan are becoming threats to the democracy of nations in this region. Under the pretext of waging war against terrorism, political forces in South Asian countries, including Indonesia, are taking steps away from democracy. Despite the Bush administration's shouts for democracy in the Middle East, democracy in the region is actually fading. Life-threatening conflicts among different ethnic groups and religious fundamentalism have taken its place. Globalization of neo-liberalism is also a key factor that is triggering democracy to take a back seat in Asian countries. Strong measures to open their economies and the implementation of neo-liberal economic policies by several Asian countries after experiencing an economic crisis in 1997, and the following intervention by the IMF further aggravated economic polarization in these countries. In addition, an increase in the number of people in poverty as well as irregular workers, who are getting paid low wages and are deprived of any rights, is eroding the social foundation of democracy. The growth-oriented principles of China and India are becoming a big threat to the political and economic rights of the underprivileged in these nations. In addition, poverty and polarization tend to encourage laborers and people in poverty to give in to the appeal of nationalism, racism, and authoritarianism, and spread political cynicism. In the case of Korea also, political democratization has resulted in economic polarization, which in turn is leading to distrust against democracy. Against this backdrop, the general public in these nations is turning its back on human rights and democracy, and is yearning for growth-oriented principles and authoritarianism that were typical in the dictatorial era of East Asian countries in the 1960s and 1970s. In other words, the general public believes that the democratic process of electing its leader does nothing more than justify the rule of a new elite, and that the economic pressure and poverty the general public has to deal with are not relieved at all. The general public even thinks that the authoritative government of the past, even though it was somewhat corrupted and oppressive, can resolve the serious economic polarization and poverty issues. From this perspective, China can be a model country for other late-comers in Asia as China is a nation characterized by one-party
dictatorship; oppression of the press; and socialism. The nation is, in fact, procapitalism and is implementing extensive growth policies at the same time. As witnessed in China and India, national and local governments are assisting the unsophisticated accumulation of capital, with the aim of attracting overseas investments. As such, what happened in East Asian countries in the 1960s and 1970s is occurring again: The livelihoods and human rights of the mass public are completely ignored and the values of democracy are taking a back seat. However, when we take a look at Northeast Asia, and throughout Asia, we notice that the biggest threat to rooting in democracy in these nations is none other than Japan. Conservative nationalism is growing in China, but it cannot become a threat to neighboring nations due to internal issues. However, it is different in the case of Japan. Under the pretext of taking action against the kidnapping of Japanese and now the nuclear test of North Korea, the Japanese Prime Minister Abe and right-wing extremists are further strengthening their actions that have been carried out since the Koizumi administration, such as the visits to the Yasukuni Shrine; denial of past affairs; and moves for stronger military power. Moreover, the weak civil society and mostly conservative press of Japan are pushing the nation even more down the rightist path. If this status continues on into the future, there is a risk of Japan doing exactly what it did in the past before World War II which is to invade Asia. There is only a gap of ten years between when the Taisho democracy changed into military dictatorship before World War II, and when Japan started to invade countries in Asia. It is true that the U.S. did its part to move Japan in the direction of being right wing. However, if Japan amends its constitution to allow the nation to have nuclear weapons and intervene in the disputes of neighboring nations, peace and democracy in Asia will be at stake. Then how can these Asian nations block democracy from fading away? First of all, they should move away from the Anglo-Saxon concept of democracy. In other words, there is a need to rethink about the U.S. version of the concept of democracy that defines it as removing military dictatorships or electing political leaders through elections. Democracy does not involve electing, based on a procedure called an election, capitalists and landowners who were pillars of the anti-human rights, antidemocratic dictatorships of the past. Democracy refers to preventing absolute powers, dictators, multinational corporations, and capital from having command over the fates and lives of the people; and enabling the people to directly and indirectly participate in such parties executing their powers. Today, in China and India, which is considered as having a relatively longer history of democracy, the government is completely ignoring citizens' opinions and their rights to live, in order to attract foreign capital. Other Asian
countries also view luring foreign capital and creating jobs as life-or-death issues, and are relieving all possible restraints on capital. When governments take any means to attract investments, and regard luring investments as a life-or-death issue, citizens' right to live and their dignity cannot but be threatened. As such, there is a need to move away from the limited concept of democracy that defines it as a possibility of freely replacing those in power, and establish a more active concept of democracy which ensures the participation of the people. The increase in poverty levels, and social and economic polarization are the most serious domestic issues that threaten democracy. The participation and mobilization of the people, including laborers and people in poverty, will strengthen the capacity of civil societies and ensure political democracy. The underprivileged and middle class people, who are forced into an unstable state in the labor market, are victims of growth-oriented principles that do not accompany an increase in employment. As such, the only way for Asian nations to move back on the path towards true democracy is to restore the restraining influence "society" has against governments that favor corporations as well as nondiscriminatory open-door policies that guarantee convenience to parties with capital. Dictatorial and bureaucratic forces of the past have completely been resurrected as new rulers, taking full use of globalization and neo-liberalism, in most Asian countries, as in Russia and China. Therefore, only social and economic democracy can sustain political democracy. Many Asian countries that took the path on the way to democracy after the 1980s failed to fully establish democracy during the last ten years. The main cause for such a failure lies with the fact that the negative legacies of the Cold War and colonizations of the 20th century have not been thoroughly discarded; citizens have not been encouraged to have cultural pride; and a new national identity has not been established. The rearmament and right-wing tendencies of Japan result from the Japanese people forgetting about the past. Just like Japan, other countries failed to thoroughly look at their past, such as actions that were in violation of human rights, massacres, and antidemocratic acts, that were committed during the dictatorships of the past. This is in direct relation to the fact that those in power in the past are still in power. As such, there is an extremely important task that needs to be performed in order to fully establish democracy in these nations and encourage participation from the public: In addition to the history of Japanese invasions before World War II, we need to find out details of how military forces and right-wing extremists in these nations came into power with assistance from the U.S. during the Cold War era, and how they have oppressed, tortured, and massacred political opposition parties. In this aspect, Korea settling its past
can give many implications to other nations in Asia. Wars spell disaster for human rights and democracy. Continuously maintaining peace in Asia will remove any justification of right-wing extremists, military forces, and authoritarianism taking power. Discussions and politics centering around the "war against terrorism" led by the U.S. are strengthening the new Cold War structure in Northeast Asia; strengthening the position of authoritative forces in South Asia; and aggravating the conflicts among different ethnic groups and tension in the Middle East. Conscientious political forces in each nation should take countermeasures, and all NGOs and intellectuals from across the globe should join hands to form a barrier. Encouraging North Korea to implement open-door policies, establishing a peaceful structure between the two Koreas, and relieving tension on the Korean Peninsula will have a grave impact on Asia as a whole.
The Press and Democratization Movement for Korea Kim Joo-eon, Secretary General of Korea Commission for the Press 1. Preface The essence of democracy is freedom of speech. The absence of it will inevitably lead to a controlled society, and where democratization has not been made, freedom of speech can not be enjoyed. Unfortunately for Korea, it has not been long since the Korean society started to enjoy freedom of speech. Merely 20 years ago when Korea was under the reins of the government of Chun Doo-hwan, the press was compelled to play the role of instrument of propaganda for dictatorial regime and was criticized as 'institutionalized press‘ by its citizens. It was only after the military dictatorial regime was destroyed by the June 10 Democratic Uprising in 1987 when we could start to talk about freedom of speech. It is not that the Korean press did not struggle against the dictatorial regime at all. However, it couldn't make its voice heard, suppressed by the military government's iron fist ruling. And in the process of the June 10 Democratic Uprising, the press exposed the shames of the regime, thereby serving as a detonator to people's enthusiasm for democratization. In spite of this, the press was plagued with the criticism that they maintained close ties with the dictatorial regime throughout its duration and looked after its own interests
while betraying the citizens. As democratization has been progressing since the June 10 Democratic Uprising, the Korean press is enjoying the greatest freedom it has ever experienced throughout its history. In the process, front-line reporters reflected on their wrongdoings of the past and struggled for the acquisition of fair and balanced news report. But now the Korean press is influenced with commercialism and has many other problems like wrong reports and bias based on political faction. Some say that the press has become a power, serving as an axis of political power. That is why civil groups and journalism groups have been engaged with campaigns for press reform. 2. Control over Media by Military Dictatorial Regimes Under the military dictatorial system from the 3rd republic to 5th republic of Korea, government (political power) had an overwhelmingly dominant position in the relationship of government, capital and civic society. The authoritarian system suppressed the formation of civic society through its oppression and control, making civic society's pressure on media insignificant. On the other hand, the military dictatorial regimes, which based their power on the physical power of army, allied with capital and reduced the press to a mere instrument of ruling. Under the military dictatorial regimes, control of media with the intervention of the government became a way of life. Governments of Park Jung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan took advantage of the press to secure their weak legitimacy. While posing threats to media companies with the possibility of their consolidation and abolition and of forced dismissal of their journalists, they institutionalized their control of media by enacting Basic Act of the Media. They also had people from information agencies such as Central Intelligence Agency (afterwards renamed as Agency for National Security Planning) and Defense Security Command reside in editorial office of newspapers and press office of broadcasting companies to interfere with details of their production. They even gave written instructions about reporting to media companies via the Blue House or a government agency like Ministry of Culture and Public Information, threatening to close newspaper companies when they fail to observe them. This kind of media control is very similar in method to those of Germany under the Nazi regime and Japan under the militaristic regime. In addition, the military dictatorial regime played a tactic of using a combination of "carrot and stick" in order to have the media on their side. As a result, the press either
became close to the power due to the carrot or subordinated itself to the power in fear of the stick. While expelling critical journalists, the regimes of Park Jung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan called in journalists who had been friendly to them to work in the political and government circles, and gave some privileges to media companies. The number of journalists who had entered into the political and government arenas for 17 years from 1961 to 1987 added up to 188. In addition, they limited a new entry into the newspaper market, guaranteeing that the existing newspaper companies could maintain their oligopoly, and drastically reduced customs duties, giving newspaper companies tax reduction benefits worth billions of won. They even excluded the press from tax investigation. Journalists were endowed with benefits like tax reduction, opportunities to study and travel abroad, and low-interest loan such as housing fund. And many journalists entered into the political arena: for 7 years under the regime of Chun Doohwan, the number stood at 55. The severest evil practices of press control were shown in the reports of the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising. On October 26, 1979, the dictator, then President Park Jung-hee, was assassinated by a shot from one person from his inner circle, it seemed that the dictatorial regime came to an end. However, a new military group led by Chun Doo-hwan came to power, provoking protests asking for democracy all over the nation, which culminated in a blood-shed struggle in Gwangju. At the time, the country was under martial law, and all reports from the media had to go through prior censorship by the new military power. While a slaughter of citizens was being committed, all the press in Korea had not reported even a line of the event until the military authorities itself made its own announcement. It was only 3 days later when they spoke of the event, but in what was exactly the same as announced by the military authorities. They even condemned citizens asking for democratization either as "rioters" or being instigated by the North Korean regime, resulting in an incident of angry citizens setting fire on a newspaper company in Gwangju. Throughout the duration of Chun Doo-hwan regime, Gwangju Democratic Uprising was denounced as more or less a scene of chaos caused by rioters who had been instigated by North Korea. It was only after the June 10 Democratic Uprising in 1987 when fair evaluation of and national-level compensation for Gwangju Democratic Uprising were made. However, the Korean press failed to make a genuine apology to the people about distorted reports they made at the time. 3. Suppression of the Press by the Regime of Chun Doo-hwan The new military power, which emerged when the dictator Park Jung-hee was killed on
Oct. 26 and seized power with their coup of Dec. 12th, 1992, started to launch a campaign to get a grip on the press, the biggest obstacle to the usurpation of political power. They forcefully expelled critical journalists from the scene of the press and abolished and consolidated media companies, paving the way for control over media. The regime of Chun Doo-hwan disempowered the press with an unprecedented oppression tactics and made them into an instrument of their power. In 1980, the new military power had some of journalists forcefully dismissed under the pretext of media purification in order to eliminate uncooperative journalists from the press. As a result, 933 of them were expelled. Among them were journalists who had led a campaign to refuse censorship from the Martial Law Enforcement Headquarters and almost all journalists who expressed their opposition to the new military authorities. The government of Chun Doo-hwan carried out abolition and consolidation of media companies in the name of purification of society. Out of 64 media companies nationwide, 14 newspapers, 27 broadcasting companies and 7 news agencies were affected. In case of local newspapers, under the principle of having one newspaper per province, the number was reduced from 15 to 10. As for news agency, a single news agency was newly launched. As for broadcasting companies, they transformed two-way system of public broadcasting and commercial broadcasting into one-way system of public broadcasting. In Dec. 1980, when the abolition and consolidation of the press was underway, the central power of the military authorities enacted Basic Law of Media in order to put a tight lid on those who have the potential to resist them. It institutionalized permission for establishing a newspaper company and empowered the Minister of Culture and Public Information to close newspapers. All in all, it was a pre-modern, evil law that completely blocked people's right to know and freedom of speech. One of the methods to manipulate public opinions used by Korea's dictatorial regimes since Park Jung-hee's Regime for Revitalizing Reform was to have members of information agencies reside in editorial office or press office of newspapers to convey written instructions about reporting. The instructions were made so that the government could interfere with all the detailed contents of reports in all areas like economy, society and culture for the sake of security of the regime. The reporting instructions mean a guideline for control over reporting that was conveyed everyday secretly from the public relations office at the Ministry of Culture and Information to each and every one of media companies. The existence of reporting instructions was widely known within the press, but in September 1986 it became known to the public through a special edition of magazine "Mal" published by a civic
group (Council for Democratic Press Movement). The instructions played a role of manipulating the press by giving a forceful direction based on their unilateral criteria of "allowed", "not allowed" and "absolutely not allowed", etc. And they were concrete enough to direct circumstances of event, reporting direction, title, picture size, length of article. The special edition of magazine "Mal" published in Sept. 1986 contained reporting instructions for one year from Oct. 1985 to Aug. 1986 which had been conveyed everyday from each agency to the editorial department of Hankook Daily eve. They were disclosed by Kim Joo-eon (the present writer), then reporter at editorial department of Hankook Daily. The prosecutory authorities prosecuted 3 people including reporter Kim Ju-eon and executive members of Council for Democratic Press Movement on the charge of violation of the National Security Law. They were put to trial while being in prison for about 170 days and were released at the first trial. After waging a persistent struggle in court, in about 9 years in 1995, they were finally given a verdict of not guilty from the Supreme Court. One of the examples of reporting instructions was that reports about the government's ruling party or the president's movements should be made big and that reports about those in the opposition and student demonstrations should be made big as well, taking a critical view to the opposition and emphasizing students' acts of violence. They instructed reports about opposition parties and struggle against the government such as request for constitutional amendment to be "not allowed" or be covered to a lesser degree. Included here were claims about torture, suicide by burning oneself, or allied demonstrations among groups in the opposition. Reports about students asking for democracy, movements of those in the opposition and opposition party were asked either to be covered to a lesser degree or to highlight students' acts of violence. The instructions were not simply about whether or not report can be made or how long it should be, but interfered with details of newspaper production such as whether or not picture can be posted, size and direction of title. They didn't even allow some particular terms to be used. In particular, they were extremely allergic to the democratization movement that took place in the Philippines in 1986. They ordered reports about People Power which contributed to the collapse of the dictatorial regime of Marcos to be treated as a short article in the foreign news section. According to reporting instructions of March 27, they say "do not compare Civil Disobedience Movement to our reality in a commentary or round-table talk" and "do not cover a series article such as series of the world's dictators, footprints of the dictatorial government, 20-year dictatorship by Marcos". It
shows that the regime of Chun Doo-hwan admitted their being a dictatorship. Of course, newspapers followed the instructions well. 4. The Korean Press in the Process of Democratization Movement In fact, the press played some role in the June 10 Democratic Uprising in 1987. At the time, while pursuing to arrest a ringleader of student movement, the public security authorities took a student for interrogation, who was not a part of it, and tortured him with water. Unfortunately, he died in the process. The government of Chun Doo-hwan tried to conceal it, but owing to efforts by newspaper's dogged efforts to cover a full story, it was revealed. This served as a detonator to the people's democratization movement. After the June 10 Democratic Uprising, the Korean press moved to engage in the campaign for press democratization, led by front-line reporters. In Oct. 1987, labor union was formed for the first time in its history. Reporters waged a struggle and even went to a strike to achieve independence of editing right. Some reporters of broadcasting companies went to a strike while launching a campaign to expel presidents who were unilaterally appointed by the regime, and were arrested. There were reporters who pledged to make efforts to do fair and balanced reporting. Since the system of newspaper establishment was changed from permission to registration, guaranteeing freedom of establishment, tens of newspapers sprang up like mushrooms after rain. However, the management of media companies took a very lukewarm attitude to such movement. Rather, the press took advantage of the power vacuum after the June 10 Democratic Uprising to emerge as a great power group, influencing policy decisions and sometimes exerting a power close to tyranny. In particular, in the presidential elections, there arose a criticism that some of the press moved to engage in "presidentmaking". As two presidential elections were progressed, the deformed image of the press was revealed. It was such that people even say "what about electing President among owners of media companies? The academic world of journalism call the Korean press "Power without Election" or "Power without Responsibility". For the very reason, press reform movement, in which civic groups keep a eye on reports from the press, is becoming active for the Korean press to be born again as a genuinely democratic one.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.