Statement on the Student-Run Press Approached by the Chinese Businessman to Shut Down the Company

Established in 2017, Sam Yan Press was founded to introduce and spread progressive ideas such as democracy, freedom, human rights, feminism, and civil disobedience into Thai society. We provide spaces for students to deliberate their thoughts and opinions and translate the knowledge into action. 

Time Is on Our Side: A Birthday Book for Joshua Wong, our first book, was dedicated to Joshua Wong on his 21st birthday, as the symbol of solidarity with the liberation movement in Hong Kong. Since then, we have been translating and publishing literature aligned with our visions. Many of which were critical to the Chinese authoritarian regime. Our themes on Chinese politics centred on the repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, political dissidents in China such as Liu Xiaobo and Ilham Tohti, criticism of Xi Jinping’s political interference in foreign countries, Hong Kong liberation movements, and recently, Taiwan’s independence from the PRC. We have constantly been active in raising awareness of the Chinese government’s influence in Thailand, as well as other movements in recent years, namely, the Milk Tea Alliance.

We are always aware of the probable risks and the authorities’ power to censor us. Until May 2022, we received an email from a private investigation agency in Thailand, claiming they had a financial offer from a Chinese businessman to propose to us. They said that the Chinese businessman was keen to make good relations with the Chinese government. We were in utter disbelief and thought it was a fraud. Therefore, we completely ignored the messages from the agency and continued with our causes.

However, in September 2022, while Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal – the founder of the press, and the Thai activist who has a prominent voice in criticizing the Chinese government – was in retreat, he was informed that the same agency had paid an unsolicited visit to his house and the temple where he was in retreat. Further, our team members also received calls from the agency and more messages stating the urgency of this offer. This posed a serious threat to our independence, security, and freedom of expression. Therefore, we decided to meet the agency in person, with the hope that we might find out what was happening.

We are informed that the offer demanded that we shut down the press and provide them with an official certificate of dissolution, to show that they have influence in Thailand. In exchange, they would give us two million Thai baht in cash. Even though we have always been a small and independent press operated by students, we persisted in our core values. We strongly rejected the offer, making it unmistakably clear that we would not be co-opted for the money.

We feel grateful that the Chinese authorities recognized our work and saw the potential of the truth that we have always been demanding. At first, we were afraid of speaking up concerning our security and protection. Nevertheless, this infringement of rights and freedom of the press can no longer be kept silent.

Despite the incidents, we stand our ground and continue to carry on our tasks of protecting and promoting freedom of expression. We denounce this liaison of censoring and violation of such rights. We condemn every means and measure used by the authorities to harass, intimidate and manipulate the challengers. 

Lastly, we encourage all press, media, and international publishing sectors to stand up against the regime’s attempt at censorship and resist the manipulation and domination of independent organizations. 

Sam Yan Press Board of Editors
26 October 2022