The junta-appointed cabinet in Thailand has dropped its own draft publishing bill following pressure from the media fraternity, reports Bangkok Post today. Instead, the government will consider the version drafted by members of the media sitting in the National Legislative Assembly, which repeals the draconian 1941 Printing Act. See also the Nation Multimedia Group’s group editor Tepchai Yong’s comment.
SEAPA partners in Malaysia, the Centre for Independent Journalism and web-based daily Malaysiakini.com, celebrated World Press Freedom Day with indy music outfit Troubadours KL. Poetry recitals, indy music performances, art workshop for children, cartoon exhibition . . . it all happened at the arts hub Central Market in Kuala Lumpur, over the 5 May weekend. More pictures and stories here.
One of the cited justifications for the 19 September 2006 coup d’etat in Thailand was for the return of true democracy following years of backslide under deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
“So,” writes Thepchai Yong, group editor of The Nation Multimedia Group, “as we are working on political reforms in conjunction with the drafting of a new constitution, abrogating the 1941 Printing Act should be at the top of the agenda.”
The antiquated law gives the police licence to curb the media, so much so that these police staff are actually termed “press officers”. They may censor and halt publication and revoke licences of newspapers over content that are deemed to “disturb peace and good morals”.
The government should pay heed to the urging of the Thai Journalists Association and other media groups for the antiquated law to be replaced with a media-friendly bill drafted by members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), argues Yong. Find out more here.
The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, has announced its decision to honour the Mizzima News Agency with its 2007 Free Media Pioneer Award. Mizzima joins two others in the SEAPA network to have been so honoured in the past – a SEAPA founding member, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Indonesia (1997), and the independent online newspaper Malaysiakini.com (2001).
Managing Editor Sein Win will receive the prize on behalf of Mizzima News at an award ceremony on 15 May 2007, during the IPI World Congress in Istanbul, Turkey (12-15 May). Read the rest of this entry »
May 3 is an occasion for media all over the world to take stock of how they have fared over the year in being able to do their job unfettered. Kavi Chongkittavorn, assitant group editor of Nation Multimedia Group and SEAPA chair, comments on Thailand’s fallen ranking according to two international media rights group, noting that for all the junta’s good intentions since toppling former premier Thaksin Shinawatra in September 2006, the results have yet to speak for themselves.
“Thai officials have yet to learn how to respond to negative news, or website postings, without tarnishing the country’s generally good record for press freedom. The blocking of CNN, the BBC, YouTube and other websites, even briefly, has backfired and done terrible damage to the country’s international standing,” he writes. Read Kavi’s full comment here.