Thakoon Boonparn, newspaper veteran who predicts the paperless era dies at 59

Mr. Thakoon Boonparn played a key role in pioneering and developing Matichon Group. (Photo: Khaosod English)

Thakoon Boonparn, an executive who helped shape Matichon Group into one of the most influential publishing houses in Thailand died of cancer on Tuesday. He was 59. Thakoon died at his home on Tuesday afternoon, nearly two years after he was first diagnosed with cancer in 2019, the company said in a statement.

Under his leadership as a Vice President and former MD, Thakoon transformed the Matichon Group from a traditional publisher into a multimedia juggernaut that survived the onslaught of online disruptions. He was also a lifelong writer committed to transparency and democracy who commanded respect across the ideological spectrums of Thailand’s journalist circle.

“Mr. Thakoon played a key role in pioneering and developing Matichon Group, which includes Matichon, Khaosod, and Prachachat, into a media business respected and trusted by the society, from the paper-based era to the digital world,” a company statement said.

“He was committed to honesty and integrity of journalism. He supported principles of democracy, and believed that an important value in his career is to have a stance, and an intimate knowledge of as many fields as possible, in order to deliver the news and information to the public as a media,” the statement said.

Thakoon Boonparn poses for photos at an event marking Matichon Group’s anniversary on Jan. 12, 2017. (Photo: Khaosod English)

“He was a reader, a thinker, a writer, and a democracy believer who never wavered in his ideology and principle,” Yingluck wrote online.

Thakoon, or “Tong,” was born on Dec. 18, 1961, to the Boonparn family, which founded and owned Matichon Group. He finished high school education at the prestigious Suankularb Wittayalai and graduated from Chulalongkorn University with a degree in International Relations, at a time when Thailand was living through the military-led regime of “semi-democracy.”

He first joined the Matichon Group in 1984 as a reporter. Thakoon spent the following years covering financial and political affairs for Prachachat, the business newspaper owned by the group, during which he befriended some of the most influential forces behind Thailand’s monetary policies.

His first test of leadership came in 1990, when the company assigned him a command at the group’s daily newspaper, Khaosod. With Thakoon at the helm as the executive editor, the little-known tabloid rose to one of the top three biggest newspapers in Thailand, alongside the more established heavyweights like Thairath and Daily News.

Thakoon Boonparn speaks on Jan. 30, 2019, at a panel discussion on the upcoming general elections to be held in March 2019. (Photo: Khaosod English)

Khaosod English was later founded in 2013 under his vision of presenting news about Thailand and explaining its unique oddities to the foreign audience. His motto for the newborn publication was “Very Thai, with an international heart.”

He was diagnosed with cancer in 2018 – without displaying any symptoms. The news forced him to relinquish his day-to-day leadership of the company and sought medical treatment. His condition worsened in November, which required him to be hospitalized, but Thakoon maintained good spirits and kept in touch with his peers.

Thakoon died at his home on Tuesday afternoon. He is survived by his wife and son. His funeral is set to take place on Wednesday at Wat Samian Nari.

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By Khaosod English