The military seized power in a May 22 coup and has been intolerant
of criticism of a takeover it said was necessary to restore
stability after six months of sometimes violent protests against an
The military said in an order late last week it could shut down any
media that disseminates information that "could harm national
security" or criticizes the work of the ruling military council.
Media executives met senior military officials on Monday to get
clarification on the order.
"There's a positive signal. There might be changes to the
announcement especially the section that gives authorities the power
to close media," Thai Journalists Association chairman Pradit
Ruangdit told reporters after the meeting.
"We'll have to wait and see if the military acts on its promise."
The Friday order compounded difficult conditions for media since the
military overthrew the government of Prime Minister Yingluck
As well as briefly detaining Yingluck and hundreds of other
politicians and activists, the military shut down about 3,000
independent radio stations and 14 television channels. It has
allowed some to reopen on condition they do not broadcast what it
deems inflammatory material.
Junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has promised to install a
government by September and hold elections by late 2015. The
military has also set about tackling various rackets from illegal
taxi to drugs.
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Thai journalists are no strangers to censorship. The country has
some of the toughest laws against lese-majeste, or insulting the
monarchy, in the world. Insulting the king or top members of the
royal family is punishable by up to 15 years in jail.
Thailand's media frequently ranks near the bottom of press freedom
indexes and there is no sign of an imminent improvement.
"We are approaching two months after the coup but there is no
relaxing of press restrictions. In reality it is the opposite,"
Sunai Phasuk, senior researcher on Thailand for Human Rights Watch,
"It is clear that the military has very thin skin and even a very
mild form of dissent is not tolerated. Clearly we are not heading
towards democracy but a mirror-image of what happens in military
barracks - top-down rule."
(Additional reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat; Editing by Robert
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