Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) General Prayuth Chan-ocha has requested that the media curtail the presentation of information that could intensify tensions, including unverified news.
In his televised public address, General Prayuth said that the NCPO had no intention to use its power to restrict the rights or freedom of the media. It has allowed journalists the freedom to present information.
In the period before 22 May 2014, he said, Thai people had consumed information from all forms of media. Some media had chosen sides and some were neutral. The general public became confused and filled with hostility, as they chose to listen only to information that supported their side. This included harsh and prejudiced criticisms posted and shared on social media, which attempted to persuade others to take sides.
There had also been widespread use of print media that made Thai society more decadent, such as explicit pornographic material and publications that defamed the highest institution of the country. They had been found to be illegally sold in many areas. Therefore, all sectors and people involved – NCPO, media associations, reporters, editors, media entrepreneurs, and relevant government agencies – needed to seriously address this problem.
General Prayuth pointed out that incorrect or inappropriate information and hate speeches might have a harmful impact and create a situation in which conflicts are never-ending. This could negatively affect the minds of the youth, who are the future of the country. If this situation is allowed to continue, social rifts will deepen.
He called on all those involved with the media, including the press, publishing houses, and editors, to set standards and develop measures to control the content of the media. Should any of the media continue to provide false information or information that is damaging to the country, then they will have to be accountable for the media under their responsibility.
He urged them to sympathize with individuals who have been defamed. If anyone is too quick to conclude that certain individuals are good or bad without factual proof, then it will lead to rising tensions in society.
As for community radio stations which have been closed, they are gradually resuming their service. The NCPO is trying to allow them back on air. As the reopening process involves many legal steps, some stations are still unable to reopen at the moment.
General Prayuth also called for an understanding that, at this moment, the country needs peace and order so that the NCPO will be better able to resolve problems. He explained that the reason the NCPO touched on the issue of the media was that it did not want to see any more conflicts and misunderstanding between the media and officials who are legally performing their duties. In addition, the country is not in normal situation. Therefore, it is necessary to ask that the media not intensify conflicts.