Thursday, November 23, 2017
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Media-control bill ‘faces tough legal passage’

Posted by pakin On May - 4 - 2017

The chairman of a National Legislative Assembly (NLA) subcommittee on media reforms has conceded it will not be an easy task to roll out the controversial law regulating the media.

ACM Chalee Chanruang said the bill has still not undergone public hearings.

This process is needed to comply with Section 77 of the new charter.

There is a strong possibility the Protection of Media Rights and Freedom and the Promotion of Ethics and Professional Standards Bill will be amended before going to the NLA, he said.

The bill was endorsed by the National Reform Steering Assembly on Monday amid opposition by members of the media.

It needs to go before the cabinet for consideration and then the NLA.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-Ngam said that as the draft legislation is yet to undergo public hearings in line with the new constitution, the government will proceed by gauging opinions from all sides including those of the media.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, on World Press Freedom Day Wednesday, said the media should find a balance when working with the government. The press should support good things done by the government and criticise bad things, although there should be mutual respect, he said.

The Thai Journalists Association (TJA) and 29 other media bodies released a joint statement to mark the day.

The TJA demanded the bill be suspended and regime orders limiting press freedom be revoked.

Speaking at the TJA seminar, Supinya Klangnarong, an ex-member of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, said the bill is an attempt to expand state power and limit that of the people.

National human rights commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit said the government should guarantee that the media will not face threats.

NLA member Somchai Sawaengkan said he disagreed with the bill.

Talking to the Bangkok Post, Swedish ambassador to Thailand Staffan Herrstrom said freedom of the press contributes enormously to democracy, transparency and innovation.

“You need that kind of wide space for different views just to encourage people to think outside the box,” he said.

Finnish ambassador Satu Suikkari-Kleven said Finnish journalists adhere strictly to ethical guidelines while people are active in monitoring the conduct of the media and discussing social issues openly.

In a separate development, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand received a letter from police at Lumpini station asking it to cancel its discussion on “Memories of 1932: The Mystery of Thailand’s Missing Plaque”, scheduled to be held at 7pm Wednesday at its office in Bangkok. The FCCT changed the topic to one on world press freedom instead.

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