Submitted on Tue, 2017-05-02 16:46
The junta’s National Reform Council (NRC) has given the green light to a controversial bill that would subject the Thai media to a licensing system. During the debate over the bill, one council member argued that journalists reporting criticism of the military should be executed by firing squad.
On 1 May 2017, the NRC approved the Protection of Media Rights and Freedom, Ethics and Professional Standards Bill, with 141 votes in favour, 13 against and 17 abstentions. The bill will now be submitted to the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly for final approval.
The bill would establish a National Professional Media Council (NPMC) consisting of at least two government officials out of 15 members. The council will have the authority to approve or revoke media licences, with unlicensed media facing fines and imprisonment.
The bill states that all people profiting from the production of media are subject to its regulations, raising public concerns that popular websites, Facebook pages and YouTube channels will require licences as well.
Prior the bill’s passage, NRC members discussed the need for the law. NRC whip spokesperson Pornthip Rojanasunand supported government representation in the NPMC, arguing that self-regulation has proved itself ineffective. She added that the increasing popularity of social media has made the bill even more crucial.
“The media nowadays make video clips to defame people. This is very difficult to control ... and is destroying society,” Pornthip stated.
Lt Gen Thawatchai Samutsakhon pointed out that countries such as China and Singapore have similar media regulations, adding that he has been a victim of Thailand’s “careless” media.
“Pol Gen Seripisut Temiyavet, a former police commander, recently gave interviews condemning the military,” recounted Thawatchai. “He has no respect [for the military]. Journalists who report these things should be executed by firing squad.”
Lt Gen Thawatchai Samutsakhon (Photo from Matichon)