Media urges NCPO to allow freedom of expression

national May 28, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Editors of several publications and media outlets yesterday called on the junta to allow freedom of press and freedom of expression as certain orders issued by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) were affecting their work.

Four groups of media professionals – the Thai Journalists Association (TJA), National Press Council of Thailand, Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, and News Broadcasting Council of Thailand – organised a meeting of newspaper and TV news editors at the TJA headquarters yesterday morning.

At the meeting they discussed how the media would perform its duties in the current situation, TJA president Pradit Ruangdit said.
During the discussion, the editors also agreed on a three-point conclusion, saying that though their freedom was limited to an extent, they did not feel the NCPO’s orders were too much of an obstacle. 
However, they said the junta should hold a formal press conference every day and allow reporters to freely ask questions. They all agreed that if the public was able to get accurate information, with no questions left unanswered, then the country had a better chance of returning to normalcy. 
The editors also agreed that national reforms should be based on public participation and that everyone should be granted the right of expression. They said the mass media should be allowed to do their job and help contribute to the reform efforts. 
Yesterday afternoon, Army secretary Maj-General Polphat Wannaphak invited two reporters to warn them against trying to corner Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the NCPO chief, with pointed questions at press conferences.
Polphat had summoned Thai Rath newspaper’s Suparirk Thongchairit and Wassana Nanuam from the Bangkok Post to meet him at the Army headquarters. At the meeting, he told the two reporters that the NCPO felt uneasy about them raising questions in a move to corner him during a press conference on Monday.
“Prayuth asked me to tell you that not only is he the Army chief, he is also in charge of the country’s administration in both executive and legislative affairs. So, he needs to be careful, as all his answers will be made known to public. Please think about the questions carefully, as this is not the time to answer all those questions yet,” Polphat said. 
He also asked Wassana to block all comments on her Facebook timeline, and though she said she had already asked her followers to stop posting comments, as of press time, her friends were still actively posting their thoughts on the situation. 

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