The Junta leader has accused some of the media of inciting conflict and attacking him personally and threatens to use martial law to shut them down.
According to Matichon Online, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, prime minister and the head of the junta’s National Council of Peace and Order (NCPO), said he can stand public criticism as a public figure, but not personal attacks against him. He then urged the media to respect his privacy and his human dignity.
“I have been patient for so long already, what!..are they crazy complaining at everyone? What good does it bring? I don’t want to read [this stuff]. It makes me angry and lose my manners and leadership image. This time I will seriously shut them down. That’s what martial law is meant for. I’ll use Article 44 [of the 2014 Interim Charter] creatively. I have never put anyone in jail for this,” said Prayut.
Article 44 of the 2014 Interim Charter states that the head of the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has unprecedented powers to prevent and suppress any apparent threats to national security.
Prayut regularly fails to remain composed in front of the media. Recently, Thairath caught Gen Prayuth on camera throwing a banana peel at a cameraman’s head. In late November, he was also recorded on camera pulling the ears and ruffling the hair of a reporter while the reporter was reaching out with his microphone and kneeling down so that he would not be in the camera frame. In late September, he was angry with questions from reporters and said “I’ll smack you with the podium”.
In Late November, when the PM arrived Bangkok after his Vietnam trip, he was angry at the media’s questions and said “What more do you want from me? I’m already tired from the meeting and didn’t sleep. Instead of asking me if I’m tired or how I am, there are only questions like when will there be an election, when will the constitution be completed? We haven’t even drafted a single article of it. Why do people have to keep asking? I’m tired.”
In the past seven months after the coup d’état in May, the junta has ordered the closure of many media outlets, such as satellite TV channels and community radios, which played an important role in mobilizing the anti-establishment red shirts. Mainstream media editors have also been summoned regularly.
The junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) also issued Order 97 and Order 103 in late July, which strictly prohibited the press from criticizing the junta’s operations and from presenting news which might affect national security, such as lèse majesté.
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