Rights groups and journalists have criticized curbs imposed on the
press since the May 22 bloodless coup the military says was aimed at
ending six months of street protests and political paralysis.
Adul Saengsingkaew, deputy head of the National Council of Peace and
Order, said the military would monitor reports that were false or
posed a threat to national security.
Offenders who refused to cooperate could face charges.
"There will be five committees set up to monitor local and
international media that will report to the military daily," Adul, a
former national police chief, told Reuters by telephone.
"Police will not pursue legal action against media so long as
journalists are cooperative and help share news that is constructive
and true. Those that spread inappropriate content may face criminal
He expressed particular concern about reporting on the activities of
a government-in-exile that launched a campaign of civil disobedience
this week, almost certainly based in a neighboring country.
Officials have made little comment on the group, saying only that
there is only one legitimate government.
Junta spokesman Winthai Suvaree said the panels were not intended to
restrict Thais' access to information.
Instead, he said, they would help the state make the truth known
faster. "We won't close or obstruct the public's right to know
truthful news," he added. "We ask for cooperation to write balanced
and appropriate news."
The military has shut hundreds of "inappropriate websites", radio
stations and television channels since the coup.
It has promised to install a government by September and stage
elections in a little more than a year, but says it must first
ensure stability. The United States and European Union denounced the
takeover and halted cooperation programs.
Data released on Thursday showed exports and factory output fell
more than expected in May, showing that the economy remains weak and
underscoring the tough task the military faces.
Further battered by lower tourist arrivals, the economy shrank 2.1
percent in January-March over the previous quarter.
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The Thai Journalists Association, in a statement on its website on
Wednesday, said it was worried about the action against the media.
"It could impact the information the public receives and be an
obstacle to our work," it added.
Hundreds of political figures, activists, academics and business
people have been detained. Most were promptly released and told to
steer clear of politics and public statements.
Opponents have staged a few minor protests, quickly broken up by
security forces. Some largely unco-ordinated "silent protesters"
were briefly rounded up.
Most of those detained had links to the ousted government of
Yingluck Shinawatra and her exiled brother Thaksin, who handed out
social benefits to disadvantaged northern regions during more than
five years as premier. He was deposed in a 2006 coup.
Yingluck was ordered by a court on May 7 to step down for abuse of
power. The rump cabinet that remained was removed in the military
Protesters opposed to the Shinawatras and linked to the royalist
elite in Bangkok led six months of protests to topple Yingluck's
government. At least 30 people died in periodic outbursts of
The junta has proclaimed national unity through "love and
reconciliation" as its main aim. Round-the-clock radio and
television broadcasts lionise the army's virtues.
A song the junta says was written by coup leader General Prayuth
Chan-ocha, with lyrics such as "We will act with honesty and just
ask that you trust us", is played at the top of the hour on most
(Additional reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Editing by Ron
Popeski and Clarence Fernandez)
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