Thailand’s PM orders a review of media gag orders
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed the Joint Command for the Administration of Emergency Situation, headed by the National Police Chief, to reconsider its order for the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES) and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications (NBTC) to clamp down on media outlets which are alleged to have disseminated false or misleading information in a way which may cause public unrest.
The Prime Minister said that he has instructed agencies concerned to take into consideration the rights and liberties of the media and to only take action against those which deliberately disseminate fake news, or false or distorted information, to incite public unrest.
Media, which perform their duty honestly and present their news reports in a fair and balance manner, play an important role in the protection of public interests and act as a check-and-balance mechanism, said the Prime Minister, adding that agencies must deal with the media on case-by-case basis and take action only when there is clear evidence of wrongdoing.
“My responsibility, and the responsibility of all of us, is to protect against those with ill intention towards the country and any attempt to incite unrest and division among the people. This we cannot allow to happen, but you must be careful not to trespass on the rights of other people,” said the Prime Minister, referring to the media.
The Prime Minister’s instruction to review the gag orders came this morning, after the Criminal Court ordered the shutdown of all online platforms belonging to Voice TV, on the grounds that it has disseminated false information about the protests in a way which may cause public unrest or public confusion.
The Court is also considering similar action against three other media outlets, namely Prachatai, The Reporters and The Standard, as requested by the DES Ministry.
Mr. Mekin Petchplai, CEO of Voice TV, said in a statement today that Voice TV is still performing its duty as normal because is yet to receive a formal order from the Criminal Court.
He insisted, however, that Voice TV has performed its duty professionally, without distorting information as alleged.