Soldiers should seek legal action rather than stage protests if they feel insulted by the media, Democrat list-MP Ong-art Klampaibul said yesterday.
He was commenting after troops staged rallies on Friday and Saturday outside the office of the ASTV Manager newspaper.
They were angered by the newspaper's criticisms of army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha.
The paper's comments were sparked by a difference in opinion between the army chief and ASTV Manager over the pending ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the territorial dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple.
An opinion piece published on Friday on the ASTV Manager website compared Gen Prayuth to "a woman on her period" and said he had failed in his duties as army chief.
It made the comment in response to Gen Prayuth's criticisms of the newspaper on Thursday for arguing the ICJ does not have the jurisdiction to rule on the border dispute.
Mr Ong-art said it was improper for the soldiers to protest in uniform and their rallies, while peaceful, could be viewed as acts of intimidation.
He said the media's right to free expression should not be restricted by anyone.
The right of the media to present news and opinion is guaranteed by the constitution, he said.
However, he said the media itself is not above the law and anyone who is insulted by the media should rely on legal proceedings to protect their rights.
The soldiers should look at legal channels to protect themselves rather than resort to threats or intimidation, Mr Ong-art said.
He said he believed the protests only represented the views of a small number of soldiers, and did not reflect the position of the army as a whole.
Gen Prayuth on Saturday ordered his troops to call off the protest.
Lt Gen Phaiboon Khumchaya, commander of the First Army Region, said he granted the soldiers permission to stage the protest, but told them to avoid breaking any laws and to respect others' rights. The troops did not resume their protest yesterday.
Lt Gen Phaiboon insisted the rallies were not meant to intimidate the media.
He said the soldiers' morale had been damaged by the ASTV Manager article and they were merely acting to protect their superior.
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