The notion of good governance was first given importance and included in the Thai national agenda in the 1990’s. At its inception, not many people, particularly those at the grassroot level, understood what it meant. There were attempts to explain this concept to the public and even attempts by community leaders and scholars to translate into Thai the term “good governance” – dhama-bhibal – with the hope that it would make it easier to understand. The need to interpret the term in its various aspects remains, however.
The explanations of good governance can be varied. One of these, which is widely accepted, focuses on the capability of the state to perform its key functions in response to the needs of its citizens, and to be accountable for what it does. Emphasis has therefore been placed on a people-centred ideology -- needs of the people, public interest, transparency, accountability and responsibility of the policy-makers. All these have also become central to establishing sustainable development.
Based on the concept of transparency, one significant development that took place in the late 1990’s in Thailand was the promulgation of an Information Act. This Act, which stipulates the openness to the public of information in the possession of state agencies, clearly underpins the universally held concept of the right to know of the people.
It has taken quite some time before the public, or even the government officials who are in possession of information, could adequately understand the necessity of information disclosure. Therefore, it was expected from the beginning that it would be the duty of the media to bring this new concept to the attention of the society.
To perform the monitoring duty as a mirror of the society, the media have been playing an important...