- Srinakharinwirot University
Career and key positions
- 2002-2015 : News anchor for Nation Channel
- 2016-2021 : News anchor for Thairath TV
Debate host a model in cool
With her intense gaze and a pen in her right hand, Jomquan Laopetch has become a household name for her role in moderating the debate between those on different ends of political spectrum. The termination of her contract with Thairath TV at the end of January made headlines and prompted widespread speculation about her next move. It is not until recently that she has started a new programme with The Matter every Friday.
A new chapter came after she host the “Straight Talk with Jomquan” show on Thairath TV on weekdays for five years (since 2016). It often went viral because it put heavyweight fighters on the same ring. One of them is the last debate about the position of the monarchy in politics on Dec 30 last year. Jomquan won praise for moderating the conversation between leader of the multicoloured shirt group Dr Tul Sittisomwong and secretary-general of the Progressive Movement Piyabutr Saengkanokkul. At point asking the panelists whether there are any safe places for discussion of the monarchy's role in Thai society and what aspects of the debate is acceptable for royalists. These questions foreground the role of the media in resolving the conflict.
Jomquan's bold movement together with her courage to take on controversial issues make her one of this year's Bangkok Post's Women of The Year.
However, the TV personality also came under scrutiny for allegedly being partial. In late Nov, she host the debate about the Crown Property Regulations Act between Asst Prof Arnond Sakworawich of the National Institute Development Administration (Nida) and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul of the pro-democracy movement. Jomquan was accused of siding with the young protester leader who was named one of the world's 100 most influential women by the BBC. Later, she explained that she had briefed Rung about the rules of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on sensitive issues about the high institution.
In an interview with Thairath Online, Jomquan stressed that she adheres to the code of ethics by giving a fair chance to every stakeholder when she moderates news talks. The media are responsible for asking questions on behalf of the public, not passing judgement. When politics runs high, the media often come under pressure to “guide” people. However, the problem is they define the term differently. For her, it is “informing the public that events happen and exist”.
“Each person expects the media to make judgement. But, personally, this should not be the case. Even courts have three levels and defendants still have chance. How can the media deliver a ruling in three to five minutes? Everybody has conscience. It is the audience's duty. It is up to you to interpret the term differently, but as far as I am concerned, I should give fair chance to every stakeholder,” she said.
With nearly 20 years under her belt now, Jomquan never dreamt of setting foot in journalism as schoolgirl. She wanted to be a doctor, but changed her mind after an inspirational course on news analysis in her fourth year. She graduated from Srinakharinwirot University with a bachelor's degree in English. She started out at ITV before moving to Nation Channel UBC8 in 2002. She spent 13 and a half years honing her skills there until 2015 when she resigned and took up a new challenge at Thairath TV. She says one of the main reasons she made the switch was because she wanted to contribute to society.
“It is difficult when you are working under the capitalist system, but I am doing my best to dig as as deep as possible into the profession and my role,” she said.
Jomquan is known for her straight talk, but she insisted her questions are born of genuine curiosity as much as public interest. In an interview with The Cloud, she said an excellent interviewer is a person who is curious and good at listening. It is not only asking direct questions, but also opening your heart to people.
“I am an interviewer, yes, but also a human being first. Being a good listener requires thoughtfulness. They might be wrongdoers in some cases, but I pay attention to communication. While rulings must derive from trials, communication can normalise public discussion even about conflicts,” she said.
However, her life was not always a bed of roses. Once, she moderated a talk with veteran journalist Suthichai Yoon. She spent three hours reading news to answer him in two sentences. She would work on up to eight shows a week because she thought that her youth meant she was expected to break her back for the job. However, she began to realise that she was working too hard when she only sleeping for a few hours each night and still had no time to talk to her mother. So, at 35, she decided to just host one talk show. But one that would keep tongue wagging for the rest of the week.
"Interviews have made me a more mature person. The exposure to people from all walks of life allows me to learn the truth about the world and uplift myself," she said.