Human Rights Watch Thailand researcher, Sunai, recently, twittered, “Nearly half a year on many media only begin to realize there is no freedom in a military state.” He was referring to the following incident as an example and meanwhile, the global wire service news firm, AP, reports: “Thai leader pats reporter on head, tugs his ear”
The following is from Khao Sod English (source)
Bowing To Junta’s Pressure, Thai PBS Axes ‘Reform’ Broadcast
BANGKOK — Thailand’s military junta has reportedly ordered a publicly funded TV station to drop a talk show that discussed dissatisfaction with the 22 May coup.
At least four colonels visited Thai PBS’s headquarters in Bangkok and instructed the station’s directors to stop broadcasting a talk show in which the host, Nattaya Wawweerakhup, asked villagers and activists for their opinions about the junta’s reform process, Isra News reported on Friday.
Nattaya had been interviewing activists in the southern province of Songkhla for her show, called “Voices of the People That Must Be Heard Before the Reform.”
Thai PBS executives reportedly agreed to adjust the program and strip the show down to “news format,” without the forum session. The host, Nattaya, was also removed from the show altogether, Thai PBS announced yesterday.
After a lengthy proclamation that the company was committed to press freedom and media ethics, Thai PBS explained that it was necessary for the station to “temporarily change the host” of the show.
The station executives also referred to the military officers’ visit as a constructive “meeting to reach mutual understanding about the role of public media.”
Sources inside the “armed force for maintaining peace and order,” a security apparatus that answers directly to the military junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), confirmed to Khaosod that the order was approved by “high-ranking commanders of the NCPO.”
According to the sources, the military is “very upset” by the way Nattaya asked villagers about their “satisfaction” with the junta’s reform plans.
The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, claimed that Thai PBS director Somchai Suwanban first agreed to “adjust the program,” but was approached again after Nattaya taped another forum in Nakhon Pathom and asked participants similar questions about the coup.
“The same group of officers then met with Somchai again. They asked him why this thing kept happening, after an understanding had been reached,” one of the sources said.
Last March Thai PBS, which is regarded by critics as a supporter of the movement that ousted the former government, bowed to pressure from a group of ultra-royalists and axed a televised show that featured debates about the Thai monarchy.
This week’s incident is latest crackdown on the press by the NCPO after it staged a coup against the elected government on 22 May 2014.
Since seizing power, the junta has banned any criticism of the regime, crushed any political protests, and briefly detained hundreds of activists.
In a meeting between the junta representatives and editors of 17 newspapers on 12 November, military officers reportedly told the journalists that there is a limit to what they can report.
“Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Prime Minister and NCPO leader, has never censored the media. We are open, but please stay within the limits. [We] don’t want any colour. [You media] must report news positively,” Lt.Gen Suchai Pongput was quoted as saying.
AP reports the following (Source)
Thai leader pats reporter on head, tugs his ear
Nov. 20, 2014 11:04 PM EST
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s military-installed prime minister, known for scolding journalists, is trying a new tack: patting their heads and tugging their ears.
A video posted on Facebook by Bangkok Post reporter Wassana Nanuam shows Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha chatting Wednesday with reporters in the northeastern city of Khon Kaen. Some journalists kneeled in front of him to allow cameras a clear view.
Prayuth patted the baseball cap-clad head of a journalist directly in front of him, then nonchalantly tugged and twisted the man’s ear as he took questions.
Deputy government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Thursday the gesture was good-natured teasing of reporters with whom he has become familiar.
“It came across as cute. He was smiling. They were also smiling,” he said. “It’s not weird for him to be playful with them.”
Wassana’s Facebook comments suggested that while the reporters did not appear to take offense, some Thai people might be put off, since the head is traditionally considered a semi-sacred part of the body that strangers should not touch.
It was the second glimpse that day of an apparently kinder, gentler Prayuth. Earlier, he smiled from a podium when five university students wearing T-shirts saying “Don’t Want a Coup” stood up and gave a three-fingered salute, a symbol of protest against the May 22 military takeover that Prayuth led as army commander.
“Anyone else wants to protest? Come quickly. Then I can continue with my speech,” Prayuth said as the audience chuckled.
Prayuth is generally uncomfortable with the media. In one case, two Thai newspaper reporters were summoned by the army for asking “inappropriate” questions about when and whether Prayuth would appoint a prime minister and organize elections. In another, he pounded a podium and lambasted a senior reporter who criticized his long-winded answers to questions.
Last week, public broadcaster Thai PBS replaced the host of a TV program after a visit by army officers who complained that the show’s content was provocative. The government, which can shut the station under martial law, insists the officers merely expressed their concerns.