Watching “The Post” in Southeast Asia
In fact, I’m hesitant to even detail the things that have happened here in Thailand because it could expose me to potential prosecution, and I don’t have any recourse or protection. So I will simply say — without judgment — that there is a law that bars anyone from speaking ill of or questioning the royal family. And the leader of the military junta recently presented the press with a cardboard cutout of himself and suggested they direct their questions to it. Next door in Myanmar, two Reuters reporters are currently under arrest for reporting on the Rohingya genocide. In Cambodia, where the government is sliding back into dictatorship, the primary English-language newspaper “Cambodian Daily” shut down last year after being ordered to pay US$6m in new taxes. Similar sudden tax demands also shuttered 19 radio stations there. In Vietnam, state-owned media dominate the landscape, and citizen journalists (bloggers/freelancers) have been arrested under laws that prohibit speech that is critical of the communist government. In Laos, the ruling party exercises near-total control over media, as does the government in Malaysia.
Especially in an era where citizens of these countries can no longer look to the American White House to protect and defend those same press freedoms. In this case, what they have is Hollywood and history — and maybe that’s enough to plant a spark for change in countries where change is sorely needed.