BANGKOK – Thailand’s Foreign Minister H.E.Don Pramudwinai has stressed that it is time to stop being lenient on foreign journalists’ visas, to end misleading reporting on Thailand and it’s military backed government.
The Minister said at Government House on Tuesday morning, officials have now been ordered to follow the new regulations strictly, and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand has been informed of the changes, the Bangkok Post reported.
According to the Bangkok Post article the Foreign Minister said “Many are not legally reporters,”and their misleading reports have give rise to misleading headlines in foreign publications.
The Minister said there are international standards on visa controls for foreign journalists and the proper scope of their work, but Thai authorities had not enforced them strictly and had been lenient on foreign reporters.
“We have issued warnings, because they have caused misunderstanding and had an impact on the national interest,” the foreign minister said.
He denied that strict enforcement of conditions for issuing m-visas was a restriction on media rights, claiming that reporters in Thailand actually enjoyed the most freedom in Asia.
There are about 500 foreign reporters in Thailand and only 10% of them were problematic, the Foreign Minister said. If they were able to clearly show who they worked for, the Foreign Ministry would be ready to consider their visa applications.
According to the 2015 World Press Freedom Index, Thailand is ranked 18th in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of how much the press is restricted and censored, and is #134 overall out of 180 countries.
The Index notably references the May 2014 military coup, which saw localÂ media and Internet being censored. The army had also taken control of leading TV stations, closed around 20 news outlets, and blocked access to foreign TV stations to prevent â€œdistortedâ€ reports.
By Patsara Jikkham – Post Publishing PCL