Thailand has doubled down on its new and repressive Media Freedom Bill – or as it’s more formally known as, the Protection of Media Rights and Freedom, Ethics and Professional Standards Bill – which now covers Facebook pages and YouTube channels. Anyone reporting news through those sites will need to be licensed by the government or potentially face two years in jail.
Speaking to journalists, Air Chief Marshal Kanit Suwannate, chairman of the NRC media committee, incredulously said that that contrary to reports of widespread opposition to the new law, every member of the media he has talked to welcomed the registration as it would bring them honor.
He said that bringing order to journalists would bring many benefits, citing Singapore as an example. “Singapore has a stable government and is a developed country, unlike Thailand,” he said.
Responding to questions as to why the draft referred to websites and Facebook pages, Air Chief Marshal Kanit said that in the past, laws were always viewed as old-fashioned and out of date in terms of technology. He said the wording was intended to be modern and in line with General Prayut Chanocha’s Thailand 4.0 vision.
He said that any online media that that publishes news and has a wide-reaching audience will fall under the law, though personal web pages will not.
However, his comments paled in comparison to those of NRC member Lt Gen Thawatchai Samutsakhon, who also praised China and Singapore for their stance on controlling the media in the debate on the Media Freedom Law. Thawatchai said that journalists who do not respect the military should be executed by firing squad.
Thailand’s Digital Economy Ministry signs MoU with Shenzhen
Following his visit to Hong Kong and Shenzhen, Digital Economy Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj announced that the ministry had signed a memorandum of understanding with Shenzhen which covers technology transfer on smart cities, IoT and digital development.
Pichet also announced that he met with the Hong Kong Chambers of Commerce, which has agreed to visit Thailand on May 8 to look at investing in Digital Park Thailand and the Eastern Economic Corridor.
No-show for Computer Crime Act hearing
Elsewhere, on May 4, the Digital Economy Ministry was scheduled to host a public hearing on the ministerial notifications that accompany the controversial and much hated Computer Crime Act BE 2560 (2017). However, before the event was scheduled to start at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, officials put up a sign saying the event was cancelled. The public hearing has not been rescheduled.