..."grossly disproportionate" libel actions against critics in Thailand who have questioned the growth of the supermarket chain. ... Siratranont, a former Thai MP, is facing up to two years in jail and a £16.4m libel damages claim for saying that Tesco was expanding aggressively at the expense of small local retailers. He was served with writs for criminal defamation and civil libel. Kamol Kamoltrakul (below) a business columnist, is being sued for £1.6m damages for alleging that Tesco Lotus, the supermarket's trading name in Thailand, had sought to minimise its Thai tax liabilities. Kamol, who was paid £16 for the column, faces bankruptcy if he loses. Nongnart Harnvilai, another columnist, is also being sued for £1.6m after she wrote in a short, tongue-in-cheek article that the company did not "love" Thailand. In the writ, Tesco claimed that the article had damaged its reputation.It is entirely necessary that journalists and others should be free to ask questions about huge foreign corporation expanding aggressively in their own country. Suing those writer seems to me grossly insensitive, and the amounts involved hugely disproportionate, and I add my voice to those protesting the court actions.
Tesco, of course, has a presence here in Malaysia but doesn't seem to be expanding as quickly - perhaps because of competition from Carrefour and Giant hypermarkets.
Online magazine The FirstPost points out that :
The protest by Hornby et al is not without risk. According to The Bookseller magazine combined sales of their books through Tesco are estimated at £2.5m.Another Postscript :
If discussing the impact of supermarkets on a local economy were a criminal offence in Britain, hosts of prominent journalists would find themselves in prison.argues Lisa Appignanesi on the Guardian blog.
Yet Another Postscript :
More about this case and Tesco's reponse in the Times.