Prayut goes right to Top News birthday party

The PM said the channel "presents the news based on facts"

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha typically runs from the media spotlight, so it came as quite a surprise when he popped up at the Top News birthday party to celebrate the far-right outlet‘s anniversary last week.

Inviting viewers to watch Top News – Thailand’s answer to the Breitbart News Network – PM Gen Prayut said that the channel “presents the news based on facts” and “analysis based on principles.”

Thoroughly enjoying the Top News birthday party, according to left-wing activist news site Prachatai, the PM completely avoided the inconvenient truth that the channel does neither. His hosts’ copious misinformation on Ukraine for military-owned Channel 5, and boycotts by sponsors due to bias, escaped even the PM’s famously intense attention.

Prayut has previously favoured a one-way system of communication through press releases, online posts, and state-run broadcasts. He becomes very quickly irritated with non-Top reporters and frequently produces short, unintelligible and erratic responses to simple questions.

When Top News held its anniversary event, not only the prime minister attended but also rival politicians including Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul and Governor of Bangkok Chadchart Sittipunt.

Kanok Ratwongsakul, a Top News host, revealed on the morning news that Princess Chulabhorn, the youngest sister of King Vajiralongkorn, sent a letter to congratulate them on their second anniversary.

In May 2022, Top News was among the most outspoken critics of a video ad on Lazada that many royalists saw as mocking of the disabled and a member of the royal family. Three influencers who appeared in the video were arrested and released on bail. They have been charged with violating the Computer Crimes Act and the lèse majesté law, which forbids defamation of the king, queen, heir apparent, and regent but does not extend to other princesses.

The Top News birthday party was attended by founder and head Sonthiyan Chuenruthainaitham, a right-wing activist and a media entrepreneur who supported the killing of red shirt protesters in 2010, the military coup in 2014, and crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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