Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat on Tuesday expressed concern about media freedom after a local pay-TV provider blocked a BBC profile about him.
“Press freedom is something we need to be rectified and made tangible,” he said when asked about the issue at a news conference following a meeting of the eight parties in the coalition government that Move Forward is attempting to form.
At least three foreign news media outlets had been censored when carrying news about Thailand, Mr Pita said.
“Direct and transparent presentation of information is crucial in a democratic society. It is important for fostering creative thinking and to open the doors to innovation. But it is of serious concern if the media is gagged.”
Self-censorship is common in Thai media, especially where the royal defamation law is concerned, because anyone can file a complaint and judicial interpretation of what constitutes an insult is highly unpredictable.
TrueVisions, for example, blocks content about Thailand by foreign media if it believes it to be sensitive. Even if an incidental mention of the lese-majeste law is not controversial in itself, an entire report can end up being censored.
In an interview with Jonathan Head, the BBC’s Southeast Asia correspondent, Mr Pita was asked to explain why his party wishes to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code on royal defamation.
“The sentiment of the era has changed,” he replied.
“I think we now have the maturity and tolerance to speak about the monarchy. Even conservatives understand what the role of a constitutional monarchy should be in the 21st Century.
“We won the votes of 14 million people. And they understood — it was clear, it was transparent — that this was one of the agendas we wanted to push.”