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
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.
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