Thai coup leaders hire PR company

BBC News



Thai military tank next to a road in Bangkok on 25 September 2006
The government came to power through a show of military force



The government of Thailand, which came to power after a military
coup last September, is to hire a public relations firm to improve its
image.

Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said Thailand would pay the unnamed US firm $600,000 (£300,000) over three months.

It signals a battle over the image of the country, which has been the subject of some recent negative publicity.

Its ousted and exiled former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, has hired lobbyists and PR agents in the US.

He has reportedly asked them to examine the legal
situation surrounding his overthrow, though he has also denied having
any further political ambitions.

Gen Surayud indicated that one reason for taking on the
PR firm was to counter the lobby for Mr Thaksin, the Associated Press
news agency said.

The Thai government was also attacked last week in an
advertisement in the Wall Street Journal, placed by a lobby supporting
the US pharmaceutical industry, which criticised Thailand’s move to
disregard patents held on HIV/Aids drugs by US firms.





General Surayud Chulanont
General Surayud Chulanont wants to counter bad publicity

The action has dismayed pharmaceutical firms but has won approval from some patients’ groups and development workers.

Gen Surayud said the PR firm acting for the government would clarify Thailand’s policies.

“The company will explain [Thailand’s political situation] to people in the US and other countries,” he said.

“The money isn’t much, but we have to do what we have to do. It is better than not doing anything at all,” he added.

Investors worried

The Thai military sparked international alarm when it
deposed Mr Thaksin last year, and has since worried foreign investors
with some of its economic measures.

Two weeks ago the government completed its draft for a new constitution that will be put to a referendum.

It puts limits on the powers of the prime minister, reduces the number of MPs, and makes senators appointed, not elected.

It is bound to provoke strong criticism that it is far
less democratic than the constitution the generals threw out when they
seized power last year, says the BBC’s Jonathan Head in Bangkok.

Its backers say the intention is to prevent the kind of
abuses of power carried out by Mr Thaksin, who they allege used his
enormous personal wealth to bypass the democratic system.

The government has pledged to hold fresh elections by October this year.


International Herald Tribune

Military-installed Thai government to hire U.S. public relations firm

The Associated Press

Published: April 30, 2007

BANGKOK, Thailand: Thailand’s military-installed
government will hire an American public relations firm to improve its
image abroad in the wake of a series of botched policies.

Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont told reporters Monday that the
government would pay US$200,000 (€147,000) a month for three months but
did not identify which firm would be hired.

Surayud indicated that one reason for the decision was to counter
moves by ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to rattle the
government. Thaksin, who is living in exile overseas, has employed
American lobbyists and a public relations firm.

Surayud said the public relations firm would help create an
understanding with the “people of the United States and our allies” as
well as explain what his government has accomplished since taking power
after a military coup last September.

The government has come under increasing criticism for flawed
policies and concerns that it will not meet its stated timeframe for
drafting a new constitution, putting it to a referendum and holding
elections by the end of this year.

The
government has not proven any of its corruption allegations against
Thaksin and has been criticized for economic mistakes and nationalistic
policies that have spooked foreign investors.

Thaksin has pledged to steer clear of politics, but many remain
skeptical because of his hiring of Washington law firms Baker Botts LLP
and Barbour Griffith and Rogers LLC to serve as his lobbyists earlier
this year. He also has hired a public relations company.

Thaksin’s lawyer and de facto spokesman in Thailand, Noppadol Patama, could not be reached for comment.


UPDATED: 15:42, May 01, 2007

Thailand to hire firm for public-relations battle with Thaksin
 

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The Thai government is to hire a U.S. -based public relations firm
to counter the public relation war being waged by deposed prime
minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Thai local media said on Tuesday.

The move came after Democrat Party executive Korbsak Sabhavasu
revealed on Sunday that Thaksin’s U.S. lobbyists had written an opinion
piece for The Washington Times to discredit the military- installed
government.

The Thai Embassy in Washington will sign a contract with an
American PR firm for “nation branding” to provide fact and detail in
response to moves to create misunderstanding of the Kingdom, spokesman
of the Thai Foreign Ministry Tharit Charungvat was quoted by local
newspaper The Nation as saying.

The embassy will pay 55,000 U.S. dollars per month to the firm
for three months. Tharit said the ministry would evaluate the
performance of the firm on a monthly basis.

Thaksin is reputed to be paying 200,000 U.S. dollars a month
for lobbyists, including Edelman Public Relations, to build up his
image and create negative press for the military-installed government
and the military.

Source: Xinhua

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Reuters AlertNet

Thailand to hire U.S. firm to burnish image


30 Apr 2007 11:33:52 GMT

Source: Reuters

Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, a former army chief, said on Monday
he had agreed to a Foreign Ministry plan to spend $600,000 on a
three-month public relations campaign to improve the post-coup
government’s sagging image.BANGKOK, April 30 (Reuters) – Thailand’s interim government,
increasingly unpopular at home after high hopes following a coup and
under attack abroad for overriding drug patents, plans to hire an
American public relations firm. “The money isn’t much, but we have to do what we have to do. It is better than not doing anything at all,” he told reporters.
However, Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said Thailand
would spend only $165,000 on a three-month “Thailand Branding” campaign.
“It is both action and reaction to create better understanding of the
country as a whole,” Tharit said. He declined to name the PR firm.
The plan was disclosed after an American lobby group which supports the
U.S. pharmaceutical industry attacked Thailand in an advertisement in
the Wall Street Journal last week. USA for Innovation accused
the army-appointed government of “imposing draconian measures on
foreign-owned companies” and “stealing American assets for military
benefit” by overriding the patents on American drugs. Shortly
after elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted last
September, Thailand declared compulsory licences to make or buy generic
equivalents of an HIV/AIDS drug owned by Merck & Co.. Then
it overrode patents on another HIV/AIDS drug owned by Abbott
Laboratories and a heart disease drug owned by Sanofi-Aventis,
prompting an outcry from the companies and praise from HIV/AIDS patient
rights groups. USA for Innovation appears to have indirect ties with Big Pharma, according to their web sites.
The group’s executive director is Ken Adelman of Edelman Public
Relations Worldwide, its Web site (www.usaforinnovation.org) said.
Edelman counted Abbott Laboratories as one of its largest clients,
according to Edelman’s corporate brochure found on its Web site
(edelman.com) and was also hired by Thaksin after he was ousted.

UPDATED: 15:42, May 01, 2007

Thailand to hire firm for public-relations battle with Thaksin

The Thai government is to hire a U.S. -based public relations firm
to counter the public relation war being waged by deposed prime
minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Thai local media said on Tuesday.

The move came after Democrat Party executive Korbsak Sabhavasu
revealed on Sunday that Thaksin’s U.S. lobbyists had written an opinion
piece for The Washington Times to discredit the military- installed
government.

The Thai Embassy in Washington will sign a contract with an
American PR firm for “nation branding” to provide fact and detail in
response to moves to create misunderstanding of the Kingdom, spokesman
of the Thai Foreign Ministry Tharit Charungvat was quoted by local
newspaper The Nation as saying.

The embassy will pay 55,000 U.S. dollars per month to the firm
for three months. Tharit said the ministry would evaluate the
performance of the firm on a monthly basis.

Thaksin is reputed to be paying 200,000 U.S. dollars a month
for lobbyists, including Edelman Public Relations, to build up his
image and create negative press for the military-installed government
and the military.

Source: Xinhua

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