There’s been broad agreement with the criticisms I have leveled against the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand over the past week, but some people have told me I was unduly harsh in how I chose to present my argument — such as, for example, describing the organization as a “a dingy drinking venue for (overwhelmingly middle-aged and male) bar-stool bores”.
However, a quick look at the FCCT’s execrable publication Dateline Bangkok demonstrates the extent of the reflexive sexism and adolescent attitudes that are pervasive in the club. Here are a couple of pages from one of last year’s issues. It’s hard to know where to start listing all the depressingly lame aspects of this mean little column, but a condescending and contemptuous attitude towards women — including Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra — is painfully evident throughout:
The now-famous Jim Pollard makes a cameo appearance, and note the crudely drawn and bitterly unfunny picture by farang cartoonist Stephff, whose dismal scrawls regularly grace the pages ofThe Nation newspaper which also employs Pollard.
There’s nothing wrong with having an irreverent attitude towards politicians and public figures: it is a trait to be encouraged in journalists. But it has to be applied equally to everyone. The reason the FCCT’s overt condescension towards Yingluck is so offensive is because it contrasts with the obsequious reverence with which the club’s leading members treat the royal family.
For the FCCT, it seems, sexism and condescension towards Thais is perfectly acceptable but disrespecting the royal family is completely out of bounds.
Finally, here are a few more of Stephff’s cartoons. Add overt racism to the list of reasons to find them contemptible.