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16.11.2011   ฺฺฺBEYOND DUTY: A JOURNALIST’S EXPERIENCE IN FLOODING CRISIS

As a public broadcaster, Thai PBS is committed to delivering to the public in-depth news reports of highest reliability. Especially in time of crisis, Thai PBS is devoting all the more efforts to present most up-to-date and accurate information, while echoingthe concerns of the people affected by Thailand’s worst flood and responding to their urgent needs. Yet, the situation requires more of us. Performing the duty of journalists is not all we do.

Saichon Watchanucha is one of the reporters who have gone into flooded areas to report on the situation. Tagging along with a rescue team, Saichon tried to visit far-off districts unreached by aid organizations and where locals were in most immediate need. “Though I couldn’t bring them relief bags myself, I believe my coverage would bring some aid groups to their rescue,” said Saichon.

Apart from routine updates on the water levels, as an investigative reporter, Saichon also monitored some mercenary deeds of persons taking advantage of the crisis. A striking instance is boat fees. At some places, boat owners charged passengers as costly as 200 to 300 baht for a few kilometers ride. To rent a boat, for another instance, might cost as high as about thousand baht per hour. In addition to the overpriced fees, certain commodities were sold at excessive prices.  

During his field reporting, Saichon also experienced a life-and-death event that reaffirmed his belief that journalism could serve the public more than one way.

Riding on the boat to report on affected district in Ayutthaya, Saichon and his team received an urgent radio call informing that a boy of twelve years old had fallen into water in the nearby area. “As soon as I heard the call, there was no need to think. The child’s life was obviously more important than our coverage, though it was just half-finished,” stated Saichon. Abandoning all his equipments, he rushed to the scene to help the drowning boy and took him to the hospital. “It was very hard to travel. We got him into the car, moved him onto the boat, then took another car to reach there. The child had lost consciousness several times. We had to do CPR to help him. I was so gripped by fear that he wouldn’t survive,” Saichon recalled. Fortunately, the boy reached the hospital in time and was saved by the doctor.

Despite lavish praise, Saichon does not consider his act heroic. “Anyone in my situation would have done the same. It was just a basic sense of humanity. But I was glad the child is now well recovered.”

Saichon still continues performing his duty along with other Thai PBS journalists to report and relieve the suffering of Thai people in this ongoing crisis.