MFP leader concerned over Thai media censorship

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Concerns about media freedom in Thailand have been raised by Move Forward Party (MFP) leader Pita Limjaroenrat after a local pay-TV provider blocked a BBC profile about him. During a news conference, Pita addressed the issue, stating that press freedom must be rectified and made tangible in the country.

Pita highlighted that at least three foreign news media outlets had experienced censorship when reporting on Thailand. He emphasised the importance of direct and transparent presentation of information in a democratic society, fostering creative thinking and innovation, and expressed concern about media censorship.

Self-censorship is prevalent in Thai media, particularly regarding the royal defamation law. The unpredictability of judicial interpretation of what is considered insulting allows anyone to file a complaint. As a result, content about Thailand by foreign media, such as TrueVisions, is often blocked if deemed sensitive. Even non-controversial mentions of the lese-majeste law can lead to entire reports being censored, reported Bangkok Post.

In an interview with the BBC’s Southeast Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head, Pita was asked about his party’s desire to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code on royal defamation. He said…

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“The sentiment of the era has changed. I think we now have the maturity and tolerance to speak about the monarchy. Even conservatives understand what the role of a constitutional monarchy should be in the 21st century. We won the votes of 14 million people. And they understood — it was clear, it was transparent — that this was one of the agendas we wanted to push.”

Lèse-majesté in Thailand is a crime according to Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code. It is illegal to defame, insult, or threaten the monarch of Thailand (king, queen, heir-apparent, heir-presumptive, or regent). Modern Thai lèse-majesté law has been on the statute books since 1908. Thailand is the only constitutional monarchy to have strengthened its lèse-majesté law since World War II

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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