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Asia Minute: Thailand Government “Teaching” Journalists

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The government of Thailand thinks reporters need some help. Specifically, help with how they ask questions to the prime minister. And that will be the topic of a meeting next week with about 200 local and foreign journalists. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute. 

Thailand is ruled by a military junta. One that overthrew the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra a little more than a year ago.

The Shinawatra administration had its own issues to be sure—Thailand’s Constitutional Court found her guilty of abusing power, the military stepped in weeks later.

In fact, Thailand’s politics have been chaotic for more than a decade. To the time her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra was prime minister.

The current prime minister’s previous job was commander in chief of the army….he led the military coup…then declared martial law, cancelled Thailand’s constitution, and cracked down on dissent.

In April, martial law was lifted, but the prime minister retains the ability to override any branch of government if he decides it’s necessary for national security.

The Asia director of Human Rights Watch says that move marks “Thailand’s deepening descent into dictatorship.”

Now the Bangkok Post reports journalists have been called to a meeting , “to ask them not to upset the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers with provocative questions.”

The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand says laws already on the book are “constraints to freedom of expression”…which can intimidate “both local and foreign press to refrain from publishing dissenting political views.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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