BANGKOK — A navy spokesman Monday insisted that most Thais are cheering on the purchase of two submarines – by citing a poll conducted by The Nation, a news agency often associated with the pro-establishment camp.
Spokesman Vice Adm. Prachachart Sirisawat said Monday the survey shows that 71 percent of citizens think submarines should be purchased immediately, and any coverage of differing opinions is divisive.
“Attacking the purchase with fake news about extravagant spending is selfish and political. Why are we letting politicians create chaos? Stop making citizens hate the armed forces,” Prachachat said. “I watch the Nation. Their poll says 71 percent of citizens want us to buy submarines.”
The poll result was aired by Nation TV earlier today. It said 74 percent of the respondents agreed that the navy should immediately buy the submarines, 19 voted for buying them later, and 7 percent said the navy shouldn’t buy them at all.
It was far from a scientific poll; the viewers voted via a 3-baht SMS during the Monday daytime news channel.
Showrunners Prachatai Tananarong and Kannikar Rungkijjaroenkul did not say how many votes were received. Prachatai also said the submarine issue was a “new trick” for the “mobs” to use.
“The three fingers stand for submarine number one, number two, and number three!” he said. “If there were no COVID and economic problems, this wouldn’t be an issue at all.”
“Wow, Nation fans are so generous!” Kannikar exclaimed as the results came out at the end of the show.
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The Nation came under fire in recent weeks for their TV hosts’ attacks on the ongoing pro-democracy protests, often warning that the movement may seek to overthrow the monarchy.
One of the channel’s reporters also pretended to be a journalist from a different channel to interview an activist at the large protest at the Democracy Monument on Aug.16, 2020.
In retribution, netizens started a campaign to ban The Nation’s sponsors, which are said to include Unilever, Food Panda, among others.
“We do not pick political sides or support any political parties or individuals since Unilever believes in servicing everyone equally,” Unilever wrote in response to messages asking if they would halt sponsorship to The Nation.
So far, Foodpanda is the only sponsor to pull its ad funding from the channel.
On Friday, The Nation TV released a statement signed by director Chatchai Kukokhuay that the channel has always acted ethically, and that the channel was being attacked by hate speech on Twitter.
The statement also said their sponsors are not involved in their news coverage.