The latest ongoing attempts to regulate the media and re-impose harsher censorship in Thailand have been met with media and public opposition. The Ministry of Culture recently passed an amendment to the Printing Act of 2007 that makes the national police chief head of Thailand’s censorship board. The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s leading English-language daily newspaper, referred to this move as “a step backwards and aimed at empowering the government to take complete control of the media.”
The amendment has been met with criticism and condemnation. But in response to freedom violation arguments, the government claims that the sole purpose of this amendment is merely to re-direct the allocation of powers described in the act to the police and away from the military. The original Printing Act of 2007 awards this power to the military, allowing generals to shut down printing shops and newspapers if they see fit during times of national emergency. However, critics argue that the police chief will have the power to close newspapers on nothing but his word.
While there is still a possibility that the bill will be re-submitted, perhaps the disapproval it has generated will keep the bill from resurfacing, possibly even paving the way for the repeal of the Printing Act of 2007.
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