After the military coup in Thailand, the generals have now turned to the country’s media. The army prohibited all editorial offices from publishing reports that were “provocative”, called for violence or criticized the army leadership.
After the military coup in Thailand on Thursday, it was the only thing Thailand’s TV viewers saw on all channels for two days: The logo of the military junta, which has given itself the title “National Council for Peace and Order” xxx. The statue was accompanied by nationalistic propaganda music from the Cold War.
Immediately after Army Chief Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power in the country on Thursday, he had all the television channels switched to the same channel. Foreign news broadcasters such as CNN and BBC World also stopped broadcasting only a few hours after the coup. The only thing that interrupted the forced endless loop of patriotic music was orders from the military junta, read by an army spokesman.
Putschist leader Prayuth declared himself prime minister
The army has largely overruled the constitution and dissolved parliament. Putschist leader Prayuth declared himself prime minister of the country. A night curfew was imposed. Meetings of five or more people were banned.
The generals quickly turned to the country’s media. The army banned all editorial offices from publishing reports that were “provocative”, called for violence or criticized the army leadership.
Junta will soon take stronger action against journalists
Today, the junta published a list with the names of 35 people who have to audition in the army. Among them are some of the country’s most prominent academics, but also a journalist. First signs that the junta may soon turn against journalists.
But the independent news website Prachatai, for example, is only partially bowing to the orders of the generals. A black banner on Prachatai’s homepage says: “Prachatai rejects the military coup. We call on the putschists to return power to the people immediately.”
Prachatai boss Chiranuch Premchaiporn explains the state of press freedom in Thailand.
“The media in Thailand are under the control of the putschists. This applies in particular to radio broadcasting. One hundred percent of it is controlled. The print media still have a little room for manoeuvre. But people have the opportunity to follow developments in the social media.”
Critics of the coup can still express themselves on Facebook and Twitter
On Facebook and Twitter, critics of the coup are still quite open about it. But the putschists are also targeting these media. In an order issued by the junta, it is stated that operators of social media and internal providers must prevent the “dissemination of false information”. Prachatai boss Chiranuch:
“The army government wants to control the situation. It seems to believe that it can control society if it controls the voices in the media. She believes that she can use it to stabilise the situation. But I don’t think it can stabilize the situation. Instead, it creates a terrible climate of fear. It terrifies people. And it frustrates them.”
Since today there are again numerous local and international television stations to be seen in Thailand. However, foreign news channels that have reported extensively on the military coup in recent days are still being blocked. The Thai television channels are now all under the control of the army. Since today, the first clashes between soldiers and opponents of the coup have taken place in Bangkok. The political climate is becoming rougher.
Prachatai boss Chiranuch Premchaiporn wants to continue anyway.
“We will continue to report on developments as we are doing at the moment. But we know our limits. We try our best to keep people informed. We believe that people have a right to be informed. That is our role: to inform the public.”
Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy since 1932. The new (18th) constitution was adopted in 2007. The king is head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, as well as the highest Buddhist dignitary. The head of government is the Prime Minister, who is elected by the House of Representatives and must be confirmed by the King. Since a coup d’état in May 2014, the army commander-in-chief, Prayuth Chan-ocha, has been the head of a military junta (“National Peacekeeping Council”).
The Parliament (Ratha Sapha) consists of the House of Representatives (Saphaputhan Ratsadon) with 500 members elected every four years and the Senate (Wuthisapha). It consists of 150 members, 76 of whom are elected and 74 appointed. In Thailand there is compulsory voting from the age of 18.
Thailand is divided into six regions and 76 provinces (changwat), for each of which a governor appointed by the government is responsible.
The fast-growing economy of the emerging market country is market economy-liberal and characterized by a strong role of foreign trade. The economy suffered heavy losses due to the decline of the national currency in 1997. However, the close cooperation between the government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increasingly stabilized the bath from 1999 onwards.
39 % of the working population is employed in agriculture, mainly in small businesses. Overall, the agricultural sector accounts for only a good tenth of the gross domestic product. The main crops are rice, corn, millet, sugar cane, cotton and tapioca. Thailand is one of the world’s largest rice exporters. There are large rubber plantations on the Malacca peninsula in particular.
Thailand has a wide variety of natural resources. Ores, lignite and natural gas are the main products. This can cover the country’s own energy needs. The enormous economic growth has primarily benefited industry, and the chemical, textile and electronics industries are important. Many foreign companies opened production plants in Thailand and took advantage of the low wages (although China, the competitor, is attracting more and more investors). Another important economic factor is tourism, the largest source of foreign exchange.
The ASEAN Free Trade Agreement came into force in 2002. The most important trading partners are China, Japan and the USA. In addition to rice and rubber, the main exports are electronics, motor vehicles, machinery and chemical products. The most important imported goods are oil, machinery and electronics. The currency is the Baht (= 100 Satang).