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Attacks on the Press in 1998 - Thailand

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1999
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1998 - Thailand, February 1999, available at: [accessed 25 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

As of December 31, 1998

Thailand, one of the most open societies in Asia, is becoming a regional leader in press freedom. Its constitution, ratified at the end of 1997, has some of the strongest protections for the press in the developing world, and the country's leaders are using their influence in regional meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to urge neighboring countries to follow their lead on free expression issues. It is also one of the few developing countries to have a statutory guarantee of citizens' right to have access to government records.

In 1998, the Reporters Association of Thailand, together with CPJ, organized the founding conference of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), in Bangkok in November. SEAPA, which brings together independent press organizations from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand, is the first multilateral organization in Asia devoted primarily to promoting and protecting press freedom. SEAPA plans to establish a press freedom secretariat in Bangkok in 1999.

Thai Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan, who spoke at SEAPA's founding conference, said that the best way to rebuild Asian economies in the aftermath of the economic crisis is by reforming press and information policies. "More open information policies will be the best guarantee of the sustainability of restored economies," he said at the meeting.

The next hurdle for the Thai press will be the privatization of the many radio and television frequencies still controlled by the military – a legacy of pre-1992 army-dominated governments. The constitution mandates that the military relinquish the frequencies, but implementing legislation that defines the terms of privatization has been slowed by the military's reluctance to part with lucrative advertising revenues.

Attacks on the Press in Thailand in 1998

01/10/98Sayomchai Vijitwittayapong, MatichonKilled
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