Most think free speech is restricted during pandemic: poll

Most think free speech is restricted during pandemic: poll

A woman wears a face mask bearing the message
A woman wears a face mask bearing the message "Freedom of expression is not a crime" during a rally on May 20 to protest against prosecution of young anti-government demonstrators. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

A slight majority of people think their freedom of expression has been restricted during the Covid-19 pandemic at a time when many have questioned the government's handling of the crisis, according to an opinion survey by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, or Suan Dusit Poll.

The online poll was conducted on 2,121 people throughout the country from July 26-29.

A slim majority -- 53.99% -- of respondents said their freedom of speech had been curtailed, with 33.64% saying the restrictions were severe and 20.35% moderate. On the other side, 24.76% said they had considerable freedom to express themselves, while 21.25% said they felt somewhat free.

Asked to comment on the current situation, with each respondent allowed to choose more than one answer, 91.71% said the Covid-19 pandemic was of grave concern with many dying; 87.35% said the pandemic caused hardship and mental problems; 80.81% said most people had not been vaccinated; and 70.72% said the situation was critical with no end in sight.

Asked which channels they usually use to express their opinions, 69.33% said they did so in face-to-face conversations; 60.09% used LINE chats; 40.83% used Facebook posts; 38.61% used telephone conversations; and 17.22% used Twitter.

Asked how the right to free speech should be exercised, 73.38% said it should always be respected; 66.24% said people should be careful in exercising their rights; 65.04% said the opinions given should be constructive and suggest ways to solve problems; 58.47% the opinions should not be provocative or cause disunity; and 57.22% said opinions should be expressed within a proper limit.

Asked whether they agreed with actors, actresses and influencers expressing their opinions during the current crisis, 68.88% said "yes", 16.22% said "no" and 14.90% were uncertain.

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