Following the announcement of major cuts to the BBC World Service, with many staff being asked to relocate abroad, journalists have said that plans to move the Vietnamese service to Thailand will pose a threat to press freedom.
The Guardian reports that several reporters raised concerns that there is a history of kidnapping journalists from Thailand by the Vietnamese state, and that the BBC had failed to acknowledge that Vietnamese do not automatically feel at home in Thailand, even though they are both Southeast Asian countries.
A World Service employee told the guardian: “Being critical of the Vietnamese government, even when you are in Thailand, is not safe.”
Most of the BBC’s Vietnamese-language staff have previously operated from London, due to the oppression of press freedom in Vietnam.
A BBC spokesman told the guardian:: “The safety and protection of our journalists is paramount. We are not proposing to open new operations in Bangkok: for several years the Vietnamese service has been divided between Bangkok and London, with half of the journalists in Bangkok and the other half in London, all producing excellent and unbiased journalism.”
This anxiety comes after the BBC announced the move, first reported on Deadline, as part of a £30m ($32.7m) saving campaign from the World Service, it will see seven more language services becoming digital-only, the closure of BBC Arabic and BBC Persian radio. radio and the end of some radio and television programs.
More than half of the 41 language services will go digital once the proposals are implemented, and the BBC has confirmed the relocation of some of its World Service journalists out of the UK. About 380 jobs will be lost.